Why the constant need to get stuff, acquire stuff and buy stuff we don’t really need?
Who are we trying to impress? Is it about “keeping up with the Joneses”? Do we care about what other people think?
Is it really worth all the stress, pressure, sacrifice and health risks?
Lets face the facts…we live in a materialistic society where our success is measured by how big our house is, if we drive a BMW or a Jaguar and what kind of designer labels we put on our body. The worst part is, its not just adults that live by these beliefs…our children seem to be headed in the same direction. Last weekend, I saw a 12 year old girl decked out in a $600 Canada Goose jacket, a $275 pair of Uggs and a Louis Vuitton purse (I don’t know the price of these purses..but I can only assume it was bloody expensive).
She was 12!
I repeat….she was 12 years old! She had over a $1000 worth of stuff on her body.
Why the need to fill our lives with all these material possessions? Why do we work so hard and sacrifice our relationships and health for all this stuff?
Is there something missing? Does this stuff fill a void of some kind? Does this stuff love us in the same way that we love it?
Usually when we buy something silly or overly extravagant, there is that immediate feeling of euphoria as we covet our new purchase. Some people say that cracking open the packaging on a new Apple product is like a religious experience. I do own a five year old Mac but don’t remember the heavens opening and a choir singing when I took it out of he box. Come on, people, its a machine made from plastic, metal and glass!
Once the excitement wears-off (pretty soon thereafter), we yearn to get that feeling back which means..buying something else. So, we work even harder, often times foregoing time spent with our loved ones so we can make enough money to feed our habit. We might not even have the money so we throw it on a high interest credit card and worry about it later. We might work longer hours and put more pressure on ourselves to get what we want…even if it might kill us.
The longer we keep up this habit, the harder it is to break. Once we get a taste of having all of this stuff, we want more. Suddenly our house isn’t big enough…so we need a bigger one. The five year old Chevy isn’t fancy enough, so we want an even fancier Range Rover instead. Going on vacation once a year isn’t good enough…so we go away several times or worse yet, believe we need a second or third “vacation” property (afterall, money is still cheap to borrow and it would be a good investment, wouldn’t it?).
“A 42 inch flat screen TV? Are you kidding…way too small. 55 inches or greater is where its at!!”
“Gotta get a Mac! Regular PC’s are so ugly…Apple is very cool and everyone has one.”
Be honest. Are you any of these people? Have you done something similar? It really does sound silly, doesn’t it?
So, we wind up in big houses, with even bigger mortgages….we drive unnecessary vehicles that cost a fortune to fill-up, maintain and insure, we go on vacations because we are told that we can de-stress for a week (and go 1,000 miles an hour the other 51 weeks of the year) and so on and so on.
Even worse, we have to work like dogs to keep up this “lifestyle” (there is no “life” in this style as far as I can see) because heaven forbid we lose our jobs or don’t make enough money to keep this monstrous machine afloat.
I have heard the saying that “its harder to lose it all then to have never had it in the first place”.
This makes total sense!!
Just like a snowball gaining speed and size as it makes its way down a hill, the pressure to maintain the lifestyle we create for ourselves sometimes becomes so overwhelming that horrible things start to happen….divorces occur, failed relationships with children evolve, we sometimes get sick (high cholesterol, diabetes, heart issues) and sometimes, we even die.
Yes, I can agree that we all like to have nice things in our lives. I admit to wanting to have a bit more than I have right now. It is a natural human characteristic. But how much is enough? Why do we put this pressure on ourselves to constantly strive for more..knowing full well that we could probably make do with what we already have?
Have our basic needs really changed that much over the centuries? Last I checked, we still only need food, water, clothing and shelter. These are the basics for survival. If we have a suitable supply of each of these…we can easily get by and live comfortably.
When did these basic human requirements get so grossly distorted?
I am not quite certain when this shift begun, but I do know that the distorted view of what we need and what makes us happy is now beginning to have negative effects on some people. People are beginning to respond and speak-out (the Occupy Movement might be based on this). Think back to the outcry surrounding the Madoff Ponzi Scheme? Why did he do what he did? No one will ever know for sure…but I am sure it was driven by his own distorted view of greed and the need to amass stuff.
Can we slow down and possibly reverse the hole we have dug for ourselves? Possibly. But it will take a massive shift in the way we, as a society, think about what is really and truly important to us?
What drives my happiness is being appreciative of all that I have; the close circle of family and friends that makes me feel loved and accepted and the ability to live freely and in relative peace. The warmth that I derive from this feeling can never be replaced with any kind of material possession….ever!