I read the latest copy of Fortune magazine today — there is a fantastic story about Patagonia (the article isn’t online yet or else I’d link to it), which is about the “greenest” company you’ll find anywhere. There was a superb quote that Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard is said to tell his customers —

The More You Know, the Less You Need

I wanted to highlight the quote for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s fantastic & refreshing to see a business tells it’s customers the truth — they need less. After all, most companies are busy telling consumers to buy as much as possible regardless of whether the product is something they need or not.
  2. In my mind, the quote is 100% true in life. The vast majority of Americans are too materialistic (keep in mind this is a generalization) — and I think much of it stems from what they don’t know. If they had a better idea of how others live in other parts of the world — they’d realize they don’t need that BMW, new HDTV, or Rolex that they just bought.

I grew up with many fairly well-off friends. As a youth, I wanted the latest cool new transformer, a new lego set, or another pack of baseball cards. As I grew older, my desires only increased. Items such as new rims, a stereo, and exhaust system for my car or a new computer topped my list. Just to be clear, I don’t think I was spoiled and given whatever I wanted — I maintained a job throughout high school and much of college to fund my spending habits. Maybe I was like every other kid, but looking back, it seems I wasted a huge sum of money on material possessions.

After graduating college 2 years ago, I backpacked Europe for 2 months, which changed my values as a result of being exposed to numerous different cultures and mindsets of the people I met in Europe. I tell all my friends who haven’t traveled that it’s the best thing they could possibly do for themselves. I no longer really desire material possessions — I’d rather spend my money traveling and increase my exposure to interesting people with different perspectives. Luckily, I now realize the people worth associating with are the ones that won’t judge me by my material possessions.

I feel like I’m rambling, so I’ll get to the takeaway — travel and learn as much as possible and you’ll realize you don’t need all the material “stuff” you think you do.