Over 25 years of moves & broken things in the Air Force, one of the best pieces of advice I got was to never cry over things that can’t cry over me. It’s now number 13 of my 19 Life Principles.
Two mental biases help explain why it’s hard for us to do this: Endowment Effect & Loss Aversion. The first means that we place much higher, unrealistic value on things that we already possess. A sports memorabilia collector estimates his treasured Muhammed Ali 1960 Olympic Team jacket is worth $10 million, while professional estimates put it at $500,000. Value is literally in the eye of the holder. (Listen to Wharton School Professor of Operations, Information, & Decisions professor Katy Milkman interview this memorabilia collector and discuss the endowment effect here.)
Loss aversion means we feel the pain of a loss around twice as much as the pleasure of a similar gain. The miserable experience of loss stings more than the short euphoria of gain.
Those mental biases can trap us into making bad decisions on everything from where we live to how we invest.
The current Kondo fad to get rid of things that don’t bring joy plugs into the power of freeing ourselves from being mastered by inanimate things. I’ve spent my older years giving away or selling things collected in the younger years. It takes self-awareness of the biases & practice in detaching from things.
Caring about relationships-people who can cry over you-brings much more value to life.