Consume Skills, Not Stuff

Instead of consuming more stuff, why don’t we consume more of our skills?

That little thought struck me yesterday, while I was sitting waiting in the bank, having loans advertised at me.

We all like to acquire new things. There’s nothing wrong with that desire; it’s a pretty decent developmental tool. But acquiring new things doesn’t have to mean buying new stuff. In most cases, new stuff is not the kind of acquisition that makes us happy.

For example: why should I buy a new guitar? A new guitar won’t help my skills, it won’t help me play any better. What will help me play better is acquiring a new song.

So I went home and ‘bought’ a new song by looking it up on the internet. I now ‘have’ a new song in my head and it cost me nothing. I can forever get pleasure out of my new acquisition, merely by sitting down and playing it.

Best of all, the song’s warranty won’t run out and it won’t break through overuse – in fact it only ‘breaks’ through underuse. What material stuff can you say that about? Certainly not my Argos toaster, recently replaced.

Some things need to be bought as stuff, like my toaster, but a lot of our desire can be slaked by picking up a new skill or by developing existing skills.

So from now on, whenever I desire something new, I’m going to think first of nurturing my skills.

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at

2 thoughts on “Consume Skills, Not Stuff”

  1. I nurtured my bike-mending skills, which means that instead of buying a new bike, I learned how to fix it. The immense satisfaction I got from tightening up my loose headset this morning has kept me smiling all day.

    Not only is it better than taking it to a bike shop (quicker, cheaper), the amazing feeling I get from having that skill is IRREPLACEABLE

  2. Yeah! There we go! It’s not much of an epiphany, but wouldn’t it be great if every time we wanted the instant gratification of buying STUFF, we just stopped and thought: What can I learn instead?

    Anyone else with any ‘skills better than stuff’ stories?

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