“Men Have Become Tools of Their Tools”

36069410 - motor yacht

The title of this blog is a famous quote from Henry David Thoreau. And while he said this about 170 years ago with an intended meaning that is a bit different than my blog’s use of the quote, it’s very relevant. Here’s the SmarterSooner interpretation… Simply put, the more we have, the more we complicate our lives. And, in fact, we become the tools of our tools. While human nature drives us to want more because we think it will enhance our lives, the opposite is often the case.   This notion is captured well in the following saying about buying a new expensive toy like a fancy car or boat: “The two best days of Porsche (or other fancy, expensive toys) ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.” I have learned a lot about this over the years and share a number of examples that support this below. I hope this blog provokes you to think about your interaction with material things.

Here are some examples when many people have become a tool of their tools:

  • A fancy watch or jewelry: While these shiny items look so alluring in the windows of jewelry stores and in magazines worn by models, it’s actually quite a different reality when you own them.   If you have a fancy watch, you have a new thing to worry about. What if you wear it in the shower or what if you scratch it? Can you wear it exercising or should you leave it at home? What if you loose it? Does it need insurance? What if draws attention that you don’t want? You bought the watch to tell time, but you’ve actually become a tool to that watch. It’s happened to me and I now wear a simple black digital watch that tells time very well and I don’t have to waste one ounce of energy worrying about it.
  • A bigger house: A bigger house, while seemingly nice, requires more work, more money to maintain, more services (like alarm systems, gardening, house cleaners, etc.), more furniture and decorations, and more responsibility in general. Everything costs more and requires more time. So you spend more money and time dealing with everything. Your new ‘tool’ (the big house) is likely more than you need and you think it’s going to make your life better, but it really doesn’t. You just created more stress in your life and have become a tool to that house. Later in life, people realize this and downsize their homes knowing that smaller is easier and simpler which makes life easier.
  • A second home: A second home (holiday home) seems like a great idea until you have one. Again, human nature attracts us to these types of things because they seem so desirable. But, if you have a second home, you now have two homes to maintain and upkeep and many of the same issues listed in #1 above are repeated here. You end up spending more time that you ever imagined managing not just your primary home, but your second home as well. The second home is supposed to create more holiday / relaxation time but it actually detracts from that because when you get to the home to relax, you’re actually focused instead on a list of chores similar to those in your primary residence that you just left. You’re even more of a ‘tool’ now dealing with your second home that is now a burden.
  • A fancy car like a Porsche or similar: While these cars are definitely fine pieces of machinery and Porsche is a great brand, a car like this create stress to the majority of owners. When you drive the car, you are now worried about the slightest scratches, parking too close to other cars, bad weather, scraping a rim, and incessantly cleaning /detailing it to keep it perfect. Insurance is higher, you’re more likely to get speeding tickets, maintenance is higher and your corresponding responsibilities are great. Hence, the saying about the two best days of Porsche ownership applies – you’re excited when you buy it because it’s shiny and new, but then the reality of ownership kicks in and you end up being equally excited when you finally sell it.

There are obviously unique situations that apply above and I definitely don’t suggest that you sell of your belongings or never buy new things. All I suggest is that somebody ‘smarter sooner’ will consider the REAL implications of their tools (things) and whether it will ultimately be worthwhile to buy that Tool. In my opinion, less is more and the pleasure of new things is usually always fleeting.   Spend more time with your friends and family and less time tending to your tools.

A great article that conveys this concept with a focus on experiences… please read and share if you feel inspired:  https://brightside.me/inspiration-psychology/it-turns-out-that-traveling-makes-us-far-happier-than-any-material-wealth-ever-does-221755/

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