Maybe I don’t need the best

April 23, 2013 in Creating Simple Living by Lorilee Lippincott

simple living china - bike - best in lifeWhen packing to move to China I started realizing something.

In China I have been struggling and thinking more.

This 1 thing is a material trap for both pack-rats and minimalists, people with money and people without.

This 1 idea is what keeps us thinking, planning, and comparing.   Often wasting both our time and our money.

Realizing this 1 idea can help me and you have more of these resources to put toward our living.

Maybe I don’t need the best of everything

Often, it is wanting the best quality or the newest new thing that adds on more things to our homes.  We often accuse people with overflowing houses of always wanting the newest and best of everything.

But this is a struggle for the minimalist as well

In our hunt for quality over quantity we can become wrapped up in always wanting the best.  We justify it because we only have a few things, so they deserve to be the best quality.

(when I say the best, I don’t mean the VERY best, but the best our money/economic status can buy)

This makes sense right?

Before moving to China I found myself wanting to buy all new things because I wanted to take the best clothes, books, electronics etc, to China.  … why carry it to the other side of the world if it isn’t high quality.

But, what we had was working for us in the US, why would it change when we started to live in China?

In the end I didn’t purchase too many new items, and now that we have been here for a while I am realizing that we really do have what we need.  Several items I did purchase new didn’t end up working well and I have gotten rid of already :(

The Best ‘Itch’

This ‘itch’ of needing the best often comes during a transition and many readers (including myself) are transitioning to simple living/minimalism.  But this ‘itch’ can be a trap.

In your transition it could surface as something like this:

  • If you aren’t going to have as many TV’s, than you should have 1 really good one
  • If you aren’t going to have a TV at all, than your computer should be very good
  • If you aren’t going to have as many clothes than you should go buy some high quality pieces
  • If you get some multipurpose furniture you can replace several other pieces

We spend time trying to compare phones, appliances, and cars trying to make sure we get the best value for the best price.

and

Not only is quality and new technology always trying to get us to purchase the newest and best, time saving, space saving, and organizational gadgets are a huge business.

and

We are taught we ‘deserve’ the best.  Somehow… I am not sure why we feel we deserve it, but there is a touch of entitlement that gets mixed in to our rationalization for getting the best.

But, what if I didn’t have to have the best?

I am a perfectionist that is always trying to figure out how to make things better and this question was challenging to me.

What if I don’t have to have the best?

In a world where the best is always being passed by something else even better, it might be good to relax and just be content.

What if:

  • our clothes are a bit faded
  • some of our phone features don’t work any more
  • our computer doesn’t run as fast as it could
  • our appliances aren’t the most earth friendly
  • our dishes or towels aren’t a complete set

… the list could go on to include everything in our lives.

We are taught that there is always a ‘best’ and that we should always strive for it.  There is a best for money, health, the environment, and technology.  But we spin circles in our head because these ‘bests’ don’t give us a clear answer.

  • do I purchase a more expensive fridge because it is better for the environment?
  • do I make sure to purchase new clothes to make sure to always ‘dress for success’ or do is it a waste of money?
  • do I work extra jobs or put off retirement so we can get all organic food?
  • do I walk or bike to work, or have more time in the evening to spend with family?

Sometimes these questions can haunt me and keep me awake at night.

But… maybe I don’t need the best

I have to say this idea has been freeing.  This idea is a key to contentment.  I want to be the best person I can be, but I don’t need the best material possessions.   

I am not against quality or buying for it, it is just not an excuse to trade out things that already work.  It is not an excuse to spend time thinking and dreaming about things that really aren’t needed to make me happy.  It is a lesson in contentment, pride, self-worth, and materialism.

Photo Credit: Bryon Lippincott – this is a picture my husband took near our new home in China.  I love the color and texture contrast, it mixes with the old bike that isn’t the best – but still works :)