You Don't Own That

You Don't Own That

The Daily Stoic for December 4th, “You Don’t Own That”.

“Anything that can be prevented, taken away, or coerced is not a person’s own—but those things that can’t be blocked are their own.”


The other day, I was reading about nomads who had bought a property in Indonesia. Apparently, foreigners are not allowed to buy a property there, but they “rent” it for 20-something years.

Obviously, the typical reaction from the old me (the one circa 2008, when I bought my house in Spain) would have been something like: “Wow! Really? What a waste of money, you don’t own that!“.

You Don’t Own That

Needless to say, today I won’t even think about buying a house again. But even in that case, I would be perfectly ok with that kind of long-term rental. My generation was told that renting was wrong, and we had to buy to own our stuff: buy a house, buy the land, buy, buy, buy

You Don't Own That
You don’t own the potato!

Without going into Homer Simpson’s “You don’t own the potato” mode or sound ridiculously guru-ish, I think we are luckily behind all that. Young people don’t want to get into a 30-40 years mortgage to be tied to a block of concrete and bricks for the rest of their lives.

Fortunately, there are things that matter more nowadays, like freedom, geographical independence, or the flexibility of being able to change your life without being tied to a job you hate, or an existence you hate.

So What Do We Own?

So what do we think we own? Let me answer that question myself.

Not my house. The bank was the proprietor until that uncertain moment when I would have paid it… 35 years after 2008.

Definitely, not any other physical belonging. One of the things that the decluttering project showed me is how unimportant things are once you put them in perspective. They are just objects that serve you for a specific purpose. And they can be stolen, replaced or given away.

Also, not your relationships, or your friends or family. Sad and hard as it sounds, you don’t own them, and can’t take them for granted. You need to love and take care of them, enjoying the time you spend with them, precisely because of that. But don’t chain them.

Not even our bodies. You can fall ill, and all of us will grow older and eventually die.

The only thing we own: our life and our choices.


Today’s Daily Stoic, “You Don’t Own That”, tries to raise awareness on the fact that we don’t really own most of the things we think we do. The only think we own is our life and our choices.