Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Be > Do > Have

Most of us want something. Maybe it’s a car, a super cool micro-apartment, a certain amount of money, a great job…whatever. We think that once we have this something, it will enable us to do something. Once I have money, I will get myself out of debt. Once I have a car, I will drive it down the street for my friends to see. And when we do that something, we will be a certain way. Once I’m out of debt, I will be secure. Once my friends see me in my new car, I will be respected. The formula is HAVE > DO > BE.

Have-do-be is the force that has launched a thousand ad campaigns. Buy (have) our deodorant > nail (do) that presentation > be confident. The ad folk don’t believe most of us will buy their products based on utility alone; e.g. you should buy our deodorant because it will make you smell better. No, their products have to change who we are in some fundamental way–if we are insecure, we will become confident.

But it doesn’t work, does it? The deodorant wears off and our insecurities return.

The difficulty is that nothing outside us will ever change our insides in any meaningful way. This is not an admonition for buying stuff. That deodorant might make us smell more pleasant, but don’t expect anything beyond that. If we as a society understood the limitations of our material goods to affect our state of being–whether it’s a stick of deodorant or a McMansion–we’d probably need to have a whole lot less.

There is an alternative model. It’s BE > DO > HAVE. Start from a place of existential wholeness. Realize you’re lacking nothing and be confident. Nail (do) the presentation, or whatever confident people do. Have whatever you need to support your state and the actions it entails. Rather than presupposing what will make us confident or the things we’ll do under the spell of that confidence, we can have things as-needed. Maybe that deodorant will help us nail that presentation, but maybe not. When we begin to understand the limitations of our material goods, we start acquiring stuff on an as-needed basis, not a this-will-change-my-life basis. This leads to a lot less stuff and, perhaps just as important, a lot less disappointment–we finally stop expecting our stuff to make us happy.

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  • David

    Well said.

  • linjunhalida

    That’s what I call “lean life”.

    • linjunhalida

      Which lean as in lean startup or lean manufacturing.

  • Elise Rothman d’Hauthuille

    Well said indeed. But maybe BE > DO > HAVE is, well, a lot harder to do than say. The media that surrounds us is constantly telling us the opposite. You need to have different color hair, this piece of clothing, this car and this job in order to be valuable. In the end, most will be worn down and feel like they are lacking at least something. But Life Edited is successfully reminding us, that less is more. So thank you.

  • Living More Than

    This is a great post to consider because each and everyone one of us defines success by either BE, DO or HAVE, with most people mainly considering the latter. In order to live a successful and fulfilled life, BE always must come first. We must first become the person we want to be and then do things that align with our true self. The things we want to have will simply fall into place. BE > DO > HAVE. Again, excellent post…

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  • di

    There needs to be more said about making do with what you have or with what already exists. For example, rather than buy a new wardrobe, find a new way to wear the same clothes in different ways. Rather than buy new furniture, rearrange it or use it in a way that is more conducive to your current lifestyle. Our valuable resources are finite.

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