In the first part of this series, we looked at how society is continually asserting its “Do Something, Have Something, Be Someone” agenda on you. This creates stress, pressure, anxiety and poor health.

The practice of “Do Nothing” brings that into balance by being content in a non-doing state, or doing very little. We reduce our busyness and constant seeking of things to do.

It also aims to remove the ego from the situation. We can still do things but we’re separating the action from who we think we are.

Now, let’s move on to the next important part of the equation:

Have Nothing

We all have possessions that we love and are attached to. Sure, that’s part of enjoying being human. The insidious aspect of “having” is we use our possessions as extensions of ourselves and to augment ego.

Every little object you surround yourself potentially is an attempt to shout out at the world, “Look at me and what I have! Look what I was able to acquire. This is an object that cool people own. I’m special, dammit!”

This issue can be very subtle, but the point is: Getting caught up in “having” causes us stress and pain. We’re always reliant on whether people think our car is cool enough, our clothes stylish enough, or whether the books on our shelf make us look smart enough (or whatever other image we are trying to convey).

If we lose a possession, this can cause a lot of pain, especially if we are very attached to it.

Our possessions can give us a false sense of security. Surrounded by our things helps stabilize our identities, makes us feel like we belong somewhere.

One of the reasons that extended periods of travelling can be such a useful experience is because it helps us see that we can exist without our possessions and that it really doesn’t matter that much if we own things or not.

Have Nothing, Be Rich

For the last year, I’ve mostly owned only the possessions that fit in my medium-sized suitcase. I’ve had temporary access to furniture and kitchenware while renting my last apartment. I don’t miss owning things and it feels very freeing.

It helps to view our possessions merely as objects that we use, not objects we have or own.

It’s all about maintaining personal power. The ideal is to develop a mindset where we don’t need a particular object. It might be nice to have, but we’re not mentally craving it.

How to Have Nothing

  1. Recognize that you’re only using objects, not owning them. Ownership is a mental construct.
  2. Reduce possessions. Be honest… you’ve got a lot of crap in your home. Toss anything that you haven’t looked at or used in the last 2 years. You won’t miss it once it’s gone.
  3. Try an extended trip, living out of just a medium-sized backpack or suitcase. You’ll get a taste of how it doesn’t matter if you’ve got stuff or not. You may even feel very free. Sounds groovy, no?
  4. Make modest purchases. Keep your ego in check when considering luxury purchases. Do you really need the luxury item? Why are you really buying it? Does this object actually make you happier, wiser, more connected to other people?

“Have Nothing” is a philosophy for happiness. Experiment with it. Question your current mindset towards shopping and possessions.

Now that we’re doing nothing and having nothing, maybe we should be nothing. Stick around for Part 3 of “Do Nothing, Have Nothing and Be Nothing.”

What’s your relationship with your possessions? Are you a hoarder? Do you like minimalism? Leave a comment below or email me and I’ll reply to you personally.