The Value of Your Shit (VIDEO)
The mere ownership effect, what does this mean? I’ll explain that and go into detail as to what I mean when I say the “value of your shit.”
OK, let’s dissect what I mean by “the value of your shit” first. I’m talking about your possessions, belongings, and personal property. EVERYTHING. What is it all worth? Have you ever really thought about that?
I had been selling real estate for many years, so I’m just going to use this as an example, but even if you don’t own a house, this still can make sense for you. This has been bugging me since I first got into the business a long, long ago. Many home sellers believe that their home is worth way more than it really is.
At first, I figured it was because people can be greedy, or maybe they really needed the money and wanted to hit the price high, or perhaps many just aren’t realistic. I didn’t feel like I had the answer I was looking for, so I racked my brain for many years about this and then decided to dig to figure it out since I’m a big research junkie.
So, it turns out this phenomenon actually has a formal name called the “mere ownership effect,” and it doesn’t just apply to homeowners; it applies to almost everyone. The “mere ownership effect,” for those of you who don’t know, is the psychological observation that people will value things they own higher than things they do not own (so things they have chosen are higher than things they have not chosen, essentially).
And, they value the things they have been given higher than what they have not been given. So, just because someone owns something, it is as if it’s more valuable than the couple down the road that owns the same thing. This means that your house, car, and everything else you own is probably worth less than you think.
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Researchers speculate that this occurs because people are motivated to see themselves in a positive light. We all want to feel good about ourselves, don’t we? I think it’s human nature and emotional attachment, and it could also be that when we own something, we automatically develop an emotional bond to it.
Memories have been made with it, or you picked it out yourself…, and the list goes on. The potential loss of that item can be seen as painful and can mean more value is placed on keeping it, but there’s more to it than that.
People value things that belong to them more than other things because they value themselves more than others, and their things are an extension of themselves.
People tend to want to have a very favorable self-image, which can sometimes be an overcompensation because they don’t have a good self-image. This shouldn’t be news to anybody who has watched a couple of episodes of The Real Housewives of whatever town or city. (You can thank my wife for that reference!)
Numerous studies have shown that most people will rate themselves as “better than average” at common traits or skills, like honesty, trustworthiness, intelligence, driving ability, sex, etc. I even read an Australian study where 86% of the participants rated themselves as “above average” on similar metrics, while a mere 1% rated themselves as “below average.”
It’s essential to feel good about ourselves and see ourselves positively, but many people see their worldly possessions as part of their identity. We live in a “keeping up with the Kardashians” world where the “disease” of materialism runs rampant. It’s probably the result of non-stop marketing ads and celebrity endorsements telling us if we don’t have the latest and greatest, we’re not going to be sexy, cool, or respected.
At the end of the day, though, we need to separate ourselves from our stuff (from our shit!). We are not the things that we have, so don’t let the shit you own define you.
Thinking our “stuff” (our “shit”) is more valuable than it actually is; this is called the “mere ownership effect.” It’s important to feel good about ourselves and see ourselves positively, but many people see their worldly possessions as part of their identity.
It’s time we learn to place even less value on our material possessions and even more value on being a better person because having a better car doesn’t make you a better husband. And, buying a pair of $2,000-dollar shoes doesn’t make you a better friend.
Everything you own is worth less than you think it is, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s worth even less than that.
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