Recently we had some minor renovations at our home, for which we had to pack some items into boxes. It has been some months later and a couple of my boxes are still sitting unpacked, and my ability to remember their content is increasingly vanishing. This should probably not surprise me as the same thing has happened every time I moved house. I have lost track of the number of times I have done it, but I am starting to see a pattern in it. Some things are thrown away, always something stays behind, and something else never gets unpacked. I think moving is actually a good way to find out what I really need and what I value the most. At the same time, moving houses has also helped me to realize how easy it is to surround myself with unnecessary things, and how easily this can get out of control.
I eventually tend to stop for a moment and think about it. Do I need all this? Do I really need that new pair of pants, the latest generation phone, or that new trendy gadget that I don’t actually need, but it’s trendy, and that’s it?
Does my happiness depend so much on the things I can surround myself with? Or maybe José Mujica (former president of Uruguay) is right when he says that “either you are happy with little, without all that extra luggage, because you have happiness inside, or you don’t get anywhere”.
Jane Goodall, a primatologist, anthropologist and animal activist, said that if she could change something in this world, she would change the unsustainable lifestyle of people. We are just greedy, and as the Mahatma Gandhi used to say, this planet can provide for human need, but not for human greed. Every day I try and keep this in mind, some days are easier than others, but for me the wisest consideration I have heard on the topic was again from José Mujica. When I buy something, I’m not buying it with money, I’m buying it with the time of my life I spent working to earn this money. When I buy something, I’m buying it with a part of my life. There must be better ways to spend my freedom and my life, two things I cannot buy. Otherwise, I just see it as a waste of freedom, a waste of life.
Pietro Bonizzi, Assistant Professor at Data Science and Knowledge Engineering