Our treasured possessions.
Study after study finds that for happiness, we should choose experiences over things. And yet, there are things (objects) that we treasure, not for their monetary value, but for more sentimental reasons.
I’m not talking about hoarding, where people derive pleasure and satisfaction from having more and more of something (although in truth I am guilty of hoarding pens). And journals. And books. Ye gods, so many books! (Yes, I am in therapy, why do you ask?) What I am talking about a few possessions you prefer not to live without, something that takes you by the heart and never lets you go. Items you treasure.
Perhaps it is a piece of clothing, say a t-shirt with your favorite band’s logo, especially one you got at the merch table of an unforgettable show. A t-shirt in that category, for me, is black with a white logo, and it’s from a band called Steve-N-Seagulls. Steve-N-Seagulls is a bluegrass band from Finland — they take already good rock & roll songs and play them in a sort of, hillbilly version. (Look ’em up on YouTube, if you have a few minutes. Their version of Thunderstruck is fantastic, but my favorite is the video of the group playing hockey with Women’s Finnish National hockey team while their song is playing. Groovy stuff!)
Perhaps it’s a ring or another piece of jewelry, either something handed down for generations or something you yourself picked out. My favorite is a necklace charm of a compass rose that my husband bought me for Hannukah. It points to “true north” (my head), reminding me to keep my wits about me, and my husband picked it out without any help from me.
Or maybe it’s a crystal highball glass bought from the Waterford factory in Ireland? Or a small painting from a street artist on the left bank of Seine? Or an African traditional tribal mask? Or a long-empty bottle of Dom Perignon that you had to save, because you splurged and celebrated your first anniversary with swanky champagne? Could it be your great-grandfather’s linen handkerchiefs with his initials embroidered in one corner? My mother has her late, blind father’s white cane in her closet, the one he used every day — it has yellowed like ivory, and it now seems a lot smaller than I remembered. I was still a girl when he passed away.
One of my most beloved possessions is a little Japanese figure with a drum and a toad, brought back from Hawaii by a dear family friend. Our friend died several decades ago, but every time I look at this object, I think of her, and I feel warm with pleasure that she thought of me on her vacation. Plus, it is wonderfully detailed and adorable.
And I have a small silk American flag — a bit bigger than a regular sheet of paper. It has traveled with me for many years, and is now displayed in our office upstairs. My friend Caroline gave the little flag to me in December 1982 after my ceremony to become an American citizen. She also bought me an all-American hot dog from a street vendor — a sweet, pure memory.
Our founding Fathers equated getting wealth and material possessions with happiness, as in: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…” To be fair, Thomas Jefferson had a lot less stuff to pursue, but still.
What is your “thing” that is priceless? Why is this possession important to you? How does it inspire you, warm your soul, and fill you with joy? Write about it. Re-live the pleasure of ownership of something that means a great deal to you.