Materialism: How much is ‘too much’, and what should be considered ‘not enough’?
The biggest issue to address in this regard is where someone’s intent is when he is acquiring goods. Is it to keep up with the Jones’ next door? Is it to feel better about a recent breakup? Is it to approve oneself into an different class or status? If any of these apply, materialism is beeping heavily on the radar. What makes matters worse, is that many people fall under this category, and some allow themselves to keep doing it! A good measuring stick on whether you are being materialistic or not is feelings vs. necessity.
Now, feelings fade, and are hardly ever static. Most people can attest to the fact that their feelings have led them in making some very poor decisions. By this very same token, when people permit their impulses to make decision for them concerning purchasing, it usually leads to regretful receipts. Especially during the holiday season, “regret” becomes one of the most trended words on social media. Stay away from thinking that you have to buy something because a number of people at work or your neighborhood has it. In these cases, you buy it, and by the time you realize you don’t want it, you’ve forgot about it and it is too late to return.
Of course, necessity is important. If you need a microwave, a new living room set because there is kid goo smeared all over it, or a television set because the old one is malfunctioning, those are not particularly items that end up in regret. Unless you wanted to upgrade to another television and know that you do not have the funds to buy it. Then, you are taking steps back in your progress.
The healthiest balance regarding acquiring “stuff” is having a clear conscience before you buy it. Take a moment to survey the pros and cons, then make your decision based on which one outweighs the other. Do not manipulate yourself to believing that it is a necessity, because you put yourself back into succumbing to a materialistic mindset. Again, especially during the holiday season, maybe take a day or so to step away from what you are thinking about purchasing in order to have an accurate judgement.
If you are wealthy, do not feel bad about buying nice things. Just know that you have the ability to make those purchases while not allowing your impulses to get in the way. If you want to upgrade your car and you already have a Porsche, think about why you are doing it instead of doing it first. However, do not ever buy things for the sake of believing that it will help fulfill your happiness. That is a dangerous path to tread.
Ryan Howell of Psychology Today states, “multiple studies show that materialists, compared to non-materialists, have lower social and personal well-being. Compulsive and impulsive spending, increased debt, decreased savings, depression, social anxiety, decreased subjective well-being, less psychological need satisfaction, and other undesirable outcomes have all been linked with materialistic values and materialistic purchasing behaviors.” Keep this in mind when you are acquiring “stuff,” and your reasoning behind it.
The very essence of ‘materialism’ is putting matter over spirituality, so no wonder why it leads to psychological deficits. That is why possessions will never bring true happiness, but using them to serve others certainly can. Think about that.
Chris Featherstone is a certified Life Coach and Theologian. Submit your “Ask Chris” questions via Twitter @chrisprolific, or via Facebook inbox.