Friday, September 17, 2010

Ownership - Do we, Don't we..

Here's a thought - "Every man [and woman] . . . lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society."

This is not easily bought, but it's an awesome thought - it was first quoted by Adam Smith long way back, but the essence is still as fresh as new. Ownership does pervade our lives and, in a strange way, shapes many of the things we do.

Much of our life story can be told by describing the ebb and flow of our particular possessions — what we get and what we give up. We buy clothes and food, automobiles and homes, for instance. And we sell things as well — homes and cars, and in the course of our careers, our time.

Since so much of our lives is dedicated to ownership, how great would that be to know exactly how much we would enjoy a new home, a new car, a different sofa, so that we could make accurate decisions about owning them? Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. We are mostly fumbling around in the dark.

Ownership is not limited to material things. It can also apply to points of view. Once we take ownership of an idea — whether it's about politics or sports or love — what do we do? We love it perhaps more than we should. And most frequently, we have trouble letting go of it because we can't stand the idea of its loss. What are we left with then? An ideology — rigid and unyielding.

Reasons - here they are.

1. We fall in love with what we have. Nature has this innate ability to make us instantly attached to what we have.
2. We focus on what we may lose, rather than what we may gain. Our aversion to loss is a strong emotion, one that sometimes causes us to make our decisions. As soon as we begin thinking about giving up our valued possessions, we are already mourning the loss.
3. We assume other people will see it from the same perspective as we do. It is just difficult for us to imagine that the person on the other side of the arrangement is not seeing the world as we see it.

And we begin to feel ownership even before we own something. This is what is not fair. And this is where we falter. We start thinking something to be our own, while it was only in our mind that it did. Call it "virtual ownership".

So the crux of the matter is - you own it if you own it. You don't, if you don't.

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