My Top 5 Personal Possessions


It is Saturday morning, and I just went shopping. We are looking for new kitchen appliances.

Honestly, I changed my game plan when I got to the appliance store. My original plan was to do pretty intense due diligence and stack rank all the appliances based on features, price and quality. When I arrived, however, my heart just wasn’t in it.

There’s a dizzying plethora of appliances. Take ovens, for instance. Gas, electric or dual fuel? Integrated with a cook top or separate? 30″ width, 36″, or wider? It goes on and on. Then, similar choices for dishwashers, microwaves, and refrigerators.

I realized that I could spend hours on this stuff. But, the appliances eventually will break, get scratched up, and become obsolete. The phrase “diminishing returns” kept popping into my head, meaning I could spend five hours on this shopping excursion or just one.

Also, I started to think about how fleeting material goods are. I remembered how pumped I was to buy a BMW 5-Series, and how bummed I was when I scratched a bumper one week in.

Then, this will sound weird, but I also started thinking about a parent at one of my children’s schools. I don’t know who she is by name. She is a victim of domestic abuse and is now a recluse. Her ex-husband disfigured her face, and she now never leaves her home.

Spending hours on appliances just didn’t feel right. So, I made my selections in 45 minutes and left.

I kept thinking about material goods as I went a few blocks away to grab a bowl of bún bò Huế at Pho Le (photo up top). That bowl of noodle soup was simple but so very awesome. It cost a fraction of what the cheapest appliance at the store cost.

This made me think that, no matter how much or how little money you have, the essentials in life are actually very few. There are many wants but very few needs. I decided to “boil down” my list of possessions. What are the true essentials in my life?

So, a list of my top 5 possessions is below. I’ve excluded “shared” possessions, such as our house. I’ve also excluded intangibles, such as my health and relationships with family and friends. I also excluded money, since I’m viewing it as an enabler of possessions.

Jo’s Top 5 Personal Possessions

1. Smart phone

2. Fly fishing equipment

3. Gym membership

4. A decent and very basic wardrobe

5. A reliable car

I noticed that limiting the list to just five items made me exclude a number of things:

  • My iPad (my iPhone will be enough)
  • My laptop (I rarely use it now anyways)
  • My skis (I’d pick fly fishing over that if I had to)
  • Red Sox season tickets (sad to say, but true: not in the top 5)
  • My non-digital books and magazines (I can read them on an iPhone)
  • Oodles of stuff in my closet and in our basement

This was an exercise worth doing. I was stunned as to how easy it was to pick five possessions. Appliances aren’t on my list. And, I was struck by how few personal possessions I truly need beyond the basics.

Now, what are your Top 5 personal possessions?

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