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#21: You’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy!

If we are to believe the World Economic Forum (WEF), by 2030 we will own nothing and be happy. It almost sounds as if Klaus Schwab read The ABC of Freedom.

The controversial statement “You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy” originates from an essay written by Danish politician Ida Auken for the WEF in 2016. She describes a possible city of the future in which we only rent consumer goods and have them delivered by drone.

I’ve owned a lot in my life and let go of most of it. I was one of those kids who got excited about a new hobby every other week. And I had to build a house to understand that real estate only holds my wandering soul captive.

Ownership is a burden. You have to take care of your things, maintain and repair them.

It is my declared goal to inhabit a space of just twelve square meters (130 square feet) and to live all over the world. This calls for radical minimalism!

But when I see the WEF video presenting the utopia of the year 2030, I get chills down my spine.

It is the richest people in the world trying to make this future palatable to us. Can you imagine the elite that transforms Davos into a high-security zone and flies in with their private jets just giving up their property and renting everything? From whom exactly?

If I don’t own anything, who does own the things I’m supposed to rent? Won’t that be exactly those people and transnational corporations that already own an unimaginably large part of the world?

If you want someone to do something – anyone who has children knows this best – you should lead by example.

I don’t see any of that in the elite that wants to run the world economy.

And still, I want to own (almost!) nothing. Two points are crucial here.

First, the word almost. I don’t want to give up everything. The expedition truck – my home on the road – will be my property. The few things that find space in the living quarters will also belong to me.

On my journey to freedom, I have met many people who have given up their possessions. They are all happy!

But they have always kept a little remainder of property: One has a tiny house, others have a mobile home, another rents his apartment and only owns a few pieces of clothing and a laptop for work.

Owning something gives us a sense of security and stability in a volatile environment. Just think of the stuffed animal that meant the world to you as a child. (The duck James will accompany me on my world trip.)

James has seen a lot. If he knew what’s still to come!

Secondly, it is crucial whether you do something by the will of others or through your own choice. There’s a huge difference between someone trying to convince or coerce you into not owning anything and choosing to do so yourself.

The death rate when attempting to climb Mount Everest is 1%. Still, over 500 people attempt it each spring in a window of favorable conditions. Some of these people are afraid of boarding a plane where the chance of crashing is as tiny as winning the lottery jackpot.

When you decide for yourself, you are willing to take a different risk. I say that without judgement. When you’re at the controls, you decide how far to go. At the same time, you also bear full responsibility for your actions.

Freedom, self-determination, independence – they also mean personal responsibility! This is simultaneously the price and the great gain of freedom.

Some readers of the ABC of Freedom have written to me about how much their lives have changed for the better since they started tidying.

I can only repeat myself: You don’t have to move into an RV to be free.

And yet letting go is one of the many paths to freedom.

Whatever yours will be, I am happy to be at your side as your coach.


Yours, Ulrich

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