Here’s a term I picked up along the way and made my own: Havingness. I define it as the ability to have; to take ownership — easily and comfortably.
While one can be in possession of a thing, experience an emotion, or hold a particular attitude — indeed “have” these — this is not quite the same as what I mean when referring to “havingness.” Havingness is that state of being in a person which allows him/herself to graciously take ownership of whatever comes, but with a specific connotation of plentitude.
Havingness is a state of being. It is that state which embraces life, experiences, people and is infused with an expectation of abundance. (Note: expectation, not entitlement!)
And let me make something very clear: conspicuous consumption — visible bragging through the excessive and obvious acquisition of things — is not a form of havingness, or what I mean in any way, shape or form. I believe the behavior known as conspicuous consumption is an outcropping of insecurity and a misunderstanding or ignorance of the usefulness of material wealth. Frankly, its manifestation is distasteful to me on several levels. In fact, I’d guess that those who engage in conspicuous consumption are actually not compensating for their lack of having stuff, but for their lack of having a sense of havingness.
I hope this doesn’t all sound like confusing gobbledy-gook.
Generousity is born of havingness. A child who has one apple and cuts it in two to give half to an apple-less friend has a sense of havingness. The child who has a whole basket of fruit and will give none away has no havingness. Another way to articulate this is to say that the first child unthinkingly assumes abundance in her life — probably more apples in the future — while the second child assumes a future of scarcity. She must hoard her fruit for the feared apple-less future.
And so what? Why does this matter? Why think about it?
One reason is that these days many think about living “responsibly.” Recently I heard about a trend towards “Minimalism” — living with less, or even the least possible. Is this a good thing? Is it somehow more noble? As well as being a uniquely First World question, I think there is a question of age appropriateness in that question somewhere. Different cycles in life have different needs and levels of need. If you are 20 and childless, minimalism may be a good thing. Or at 70 with an empty nest and a desire for the end of never-ending house maintenance, minimalism may be a great solution. But these days a family with children, aging parents and/or/as well as hectic work schedules can make the minimalistic life-style seem like an absurdist joke. “Subjective Minimalism” perhaps can become a thing. I dunno, maybe it already is.
All of which brings me back to havingness. Those who are without an ability to have, when having comes their way, are fearfully over planning, over consuming and too often sabotaging life’s synchronicities and blessings. It is my experience that a true sense of havingness will direct one to that comfortable and appropriate level of not just materialism, but also of community, convenience, spiritual involvement and a general sense of balance in one’s life.