Hi Sarath, great question!

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a desire for a house and a white picket fence! Everyone has different goals in life and if that’s your dream, then by all means you should follow it. But that doesn’t mean you should be attached to the dream. It’s the attachment itself that causes pain. For example, if you were really attached to the dream, then getting the house but discovering it doesn’t even have a fence might upset you (that’s taking an extreme example, but you should get the idea).

Another thing you could do is ask yourself if it’s really the house with a white picket fence that you desire, or if it’s just the perceived comfort/status/accomplishment that would come with getting it. Maybe it’s not really the material possession that you want, but something else that comes with it. Could you get that other thing some other way, without all the trouble that comes with a big house?

In my experience, it’s very rarely the physical object that we want but rather something that comes with getting it. Think about the child who screams and cries for a toy at the toy store, but after getting the toy only uses it for a few minutes and then gets bored. He didn’t really want the toy. What he really wanted was the feeling of getting something that he thought he couldn’t have. Once he got it and that feeling was gone, the actual object didn’t matter.

That’s exactly what happens with material possessions when we become adults. We see things we want and we only buy them to fulfill that feeling of desire. The usefulness of the actual object means very little. I experienced this when I was younger and I bought a brand new Honda Accord. I spent all kinds of money paying for the car payment, adding modifications, cleaning it, etc. But in the end, did it get me from point A to point B any better than a cheap pickup truck with no car payment and nothing to clean?

When I let go of the attachment to the status of having a nice car and competing with my friends, the practical solution emerged and I was freed of all kinds of stress (worrying about my car getting scratched or stolen, worrying about the enormous car and insurance payments, etc.). Was I missing the feelings I had when I owned the Honda Accord? Absolutely not! In fact, I felt proud that I no longer had to worry about things like scratching my truck or making a car payment.

So, it’s really not about wanting or not wanting to own stuff. It’s about not wanting to complicate life any more than it needs to be. If I was a lawyer and I needed to put on a specific appearance to my clients, maybe owning a nicer car would make more sense than owning a pickup truck. In that situation, my priorities would be different. If you decide that your priorities and goals are worth more than and inconvenience that might come with them, then by all means go for it! 🙂