If I am what I have and if I lose what I have who then am I?
—Erich Fromm (1900–80) German-American Psychoanalyst, Social Philosopher
To be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.
—Ken Keyes Jr. (1921–95) American Personal Growth Author
Attainment is followed by neglect, possession by disgust, and the malicious remark of the Greek epigrammatist on marriage, may be applied to many another course of life, that its two days of happiness are the first and the last.
—Samuel Johnson (1709–84) British Essayist
There is, of course, a difference between what a man seizes and what he really possesses.
—Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973) American Novelist, Human Rights Activist
Some men are born to own, and can animate all their possessions. Others cannot: their owning is not graceful; seems to be a compromise of their character: they seem to steal their own dividends.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
Lay up your treasures in heaven where there is no depreciation.
In life, as in chess, one’s own pawns block one’s way. A man’s very wealth, ease, leisure, children, books, which should help him to win, more often checkmate him.
—Charles Buxton (1823–71) British Politician, Writer
Less is more.
—Robert Browning (1812–89) English Poet
Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness.
—John Ruskin (1819–1900) English Writer, Art Critic
The more we have the less we own.
—Meister Eckhart (c.1260–1327) German Christian Mystic
Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with rest; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm us.
—Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835) German Philosopher, Linguist, Statesman
Once you have decided to keep a certain pile, it is no longer yours; for you can’t spend it.
—Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) French Essayist
Good things come to those who wait, but they are left-overs from those who hustle.
—Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) American Head of State
Do not dismayed daughters, at the number of things which you have to consider before setting out on this divine journey, which is the royal road to heaven. By taking this road we gain such precious treasures that it is no wonder if the cost seems to us a high one. The time will come when we shall realize that all we have paid has been nothing at all by comparison with the greatness of our prizes.
—Teresa of Avila (1515–82) Spanish Carmelite Nun, Mystic
Americans are uneasy with their possessions, guilty about power, all of which is difficult for Europeans to perceive because they are themselves so truly materialistic, so versed in the uses of power.
—Joan Didion (1934–2021) American Essayist, Novelist, Memoirist
What I possess I would gladly retain. Change amuses the mind, yet scarcely profits.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) German Poet
To the illumined man or woman, a clod of dirt, a stone, and gold are the same.
—The Bhagavad Gita Hindu Scripture
How many are the things I can do without!
—Socrates (469BCE–399BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher
Give thy mind more to what thou has than to what thou hast not.
—Marcus Aurelius (121–180) Emperor of Rome, Stoic Philosopher
Possession, why more tasteless than pursuit? Why is a wish far dearer than a crown? That wish accomplished, why the grave of bliss? Because, in the great future buried deep, beyond our plans, lies all that man with ardor should pursue.
—Edward Young (1683–1765) English Poet
Have a place for everything and keep the thing somewhere else; this is not advice, it is merely custom.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
It so falls out that what we have we prize not to the worth whiles we enjoy it; but being lacked and lost, why then we rack the value; then we find the virtue that possession would not show us whiles it was ours.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
In all worldly things that a man pursues with the greatest eagerness and intention of mind, he finds not half the pleasure in the actual possession of them as he proposed to himself in the expectation.
—Robert South (1634–1716) English Theologian, Preacher
No possessions are good, but by the good use we make of them; without which wealth, power, friends, and servants, do but help to make our lives more unhappy.
—William Temple (1881–1944) British Clergyman, Theologian
Why grab possessions like thieves, or divide them like socialists, when you can ignore them like wise men?
—Natalie Clifford Barney (1876–1972) American Playwright, Poet, Novelist
Less is more.
—Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969) German-born American Architect, Academic
Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.
—G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) English Journalist, Novelist, Essayist, Poet
Many possessions, if they do not make a man better, are at least expected to make his children happier; and this pathetic hope is behind many exertions.
—George Santayana (1863–1952) Spanish-American Poet, Philosopher