Materialism is the Death of the Awesome Life You Want
One of the biggest goals I have for this blog is to help YOU live an adventurous, exciting life that you love. In an earlier post we touched on how happiness is a product of excitement and significance. These two things make up 95% of what makes us feel alive on a daily basis, and so today I thought it would be fun to delve deeper into living adventurously and how not to go about doing it.
Materialism is pretty much the status quo in today’s day and age (at least here in the Western world). Advertising, media, and even our peers have convinced us that true happiness lies in a brand new shiny car, gorgeous clothes, expensive makeup, and bigger houses. And who can blame us? It’s all we’ve seen and heard about since we were tiny kids. Everyone believes it, and so in time we begin to too.
But here’s the problem. Materialism is a status seeking behavior. The word ‘status’ comes with some negative connotations, but I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with wanting or having status.
The part that IS wrong is believing that status = happiness and fulfillment. It just doesn’t. If it did, we wouldn’t see rich celebrities committing suicide every single year. But they do, and part of the reason is because fame, money, and beautiful objects aren’t the answer to the happiness equation.
With that in mind, let’s dive into three reasons why you should ditch the Joneses and set out on your adventurous life without all the junk!
Materialism Consumes the $$ You Could be Using to Live an Exciting Life
What brings an element of excitement to your life? I think of things like trying new foods, traveling, trying out new hobbies, going on fun excursions with friends, starting a new passion project, or investing in your education.
And by education, I don’t necessarily mean attending a college or university. You can (and should!) invest in your education by reading books, attending seminars, going to conferences, and taking online courses that interest you.
Most of these experiences require some money. The problem comes when you’re spending all of your hard earned cash (or worse, going into debt) to fund a lifestyle of pretty clothes and an unchecked Sephora habit.
You likely don’t have much left over for life enriching experiences. To fill that void, you decide to buy more stuff in hopes that it will make you feel good again. It’s an endless game of bingeing and wallowing, and the only way to win is to stop playing.
It’s hard to live adventurously when your stuff owns you.
The problem with “stuff” is that it requires our time, focus, and energy to maintain it. For some items, the effort required is worth it because you benefit from the item more than it takes from you. Basic clothing, silverware, and the possessions you love and use the most fall into this category.
But consider this. If you own a home, it still needs to be maintained and the mortgage paid for even if you aren’t living in it. So if you decide to run off and backpack Southeast Asia for six months, you’re still on the hook for the payments and a house sitter while you’re gone.
You also still need to pay back the credit card for all of those clothes and new furniture you bought last month. And you need a house or storage unit to keep those items in.
Your cars still need to be run every month or so, because they tend to deteriorate if you let them sit. And insurance companies often penalize car owners heavily if they have coverage gaps for any reason, so you’ll need to keep paying the insurance bill on a vehicle you aren’t using too.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that a place to live, a vehicle, some clothes and some furniture are necessary for most people. I’m not one of those people who advocates living out of a studio apartment with just cinder blocks for a table and no worldly possessions.
But it’s important to consider the effect of excess materialism on your life. Your stuff should overall be a net positive for you in your life. And when you acquire too much stuff, it begins to take up more of your time and mental energy than if you’d never brought it home in the first place.
Materialism Leaves You Wanting More
Probably the most sinister part about the desire for stuff is that it never ends. Materialism steals your focus in life and takes up mental space. You start to think things like:
“If only I had an amazing body and dressed like this girl on a daily basis, I would be happy.”
“If only I had that car I’ve always wanted, I’d feel great.”
“If I bought more makeup and hair products, I’d have better self esteem.”
Materialism doesn’t help you grow, it only pins you down into a little box that says I’m not worthy if I don’t have these things and look like this to my friends and family and followers…
The answer is always more, and yet more is never enough.
Where’s the happy line between minimalism and materialism?
Ok, so you probably don’t want to start living outside dressed only in a hemp loincloth while spouting off the evils of money in modern day society. Me neither. So how can we embrace minimalism to a reasonable extent while shifting our focus and attention towards life’s amazing experiences?
It all comes down to one simple thing- your priorities.
Everyone’s priorities will be different, so take some time to think about what yours are and write them down.
For me, I prefer to spend my money and attention on traveling instead of buying a new car. I’d rather throw down the cash for an amazing personal growth seminar than a whirl around Nordstroms.
When you nail down what your true priorities are, you give yourself a framework that allows you to live an exciting life without being bogged down with needless responsibilities. And that, my friends, is how you live the good life!