In my six decades of life, I’ve known people from all walks of life. The range includes from the highly successful to the folks who struggle to make it through another day. What’s interesting is that within the two extremes are very diverse attitudes on money and the quest for materialism. The bias is not always where you would expect it. There are people who have more money than they’ll ever need who are not materialistic and there are people whose struggle makes them greedy for the good life.
Materialism can be defined as an obsession with obtaining money, material objects, and the prestige that goes with the first two. The emphasis is on obsession. The dominate thought that focuses on those lofty trio of goals. When material pursuits preoccupy your interests, there is little room for anything else.
You may not think that is a bad way to live. After all, doesn’t success spell happiness? And isn’t happiness what we are all about? Lend me a moment and I will tell you my three reasons for banishing materialism from my life.
I choose a superior peace of mind. There is some evidence to the premise that money can make you happy. The idea is that money and materialism motivate a person to improve their standard of living. And that that motivation positively influences your satisfaction in life.
The point this theory misses is that monetary satisfaction, while offering some happiness, falls far short of a greater return. You do yourself a disservice when you derive your satisfaction solely from your monetary conquests.
I don’t want to be enslaved to materialistic leaders. People who are materialistic idolize those who seem to hold the key to what they desire. And in the process seek to glom onto their idols’ coattails. The thought is “If I associate with this leader who has obtained the same success that I want for myself, then I will be sure to get what I am after.” In the process, followers dismiss, disrespect, and step all over people they deem to have failed. They not only treat people badly, but they miss out on the many wonderful benefits of knowing the nonmaterialistic individual.
Even though the enslaved idolize their leader, there is often a seething envy and resentment toward that materialistic deity. These are two feelings that I see as destructive rather than beneficial to my life.
My time is better spent in pursuits of the heart. I value the time I have. And I’ve been lucky enough to get a glimpse of the joys that come with a nonmaterialistic mindset. I have met kind, wonderful, altruistic folks whose examples made more of an impression with me than any self-made millionaire. I gain the most life satisfaction from humble goals and the drive to contribute in the most positive way that my qualities and characteristics can furnish. The priceless, but often most difficult to acquire, state of mind lies not in the hunt for more and more “stuff” , but in living a life that makes a difference.
If you try to capture “things” to make you happy, you’ll come to the end of a materialistic existence only to discover that you missed the most valuable of all “possessions” – the intangible rewards of an unselfish life.
Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson