"Keeping up with the Jones'" is a common phrase that refers to having everything that everyone else has. The new car, the fancy house, the latest electronic devices, summer vacations abroad, and the list goes on. It can make you wonder...are you "good enough" because you do not possess all of these things? You assume that your neighbor is happier in life than you because they have more. To refer to another secular phrase, "does money (really) buy you love?"
1. Can Materialism be an Identity Crisis?
It is easy to believe the illusion that money and possessions buy you happiness; that having more things in your life make you happy. From the outside looking in, seeing someone with all the new gadgets makes you assume that they are happy. Is that true? In reality, having more things in your possession brings more responsibility. A larger home means more to clean and care for. Several cars parked in the garage means more insurance to pay. The exterior riches may be appealing, but it makes you wonder whether or not those with the luxuries in life are really content in their hearts.
If people have to spend so much time taking care of the things they have, when do they have time to enjoy them? So much cognitive and intellectual energy goes into managing these seemingly worldly possessions. Little time is actually left to really enjoy these potential pleasures. It seems like more stress in one’s life comes with having more things in your life. Stress, worry, and anxiety do not compliment the lifestyle of living happily. Stress is a distractor to the opportunities that are more valuable in life.
2. What makes us really happy and grateful?
Is it possible that having less actually makes you happier? Perhaps it is not the riches and valuables that translate to being happy in life. You may have heard of the phrase "less is more."Maybe there is something to this statement. Having less refers to owning less items. It does not mean having less friends or less love in your life. Nor does it mean experiencing less gratitude or appreciation. It is about seeing the value of the things that are not easily seen: grace, kindness, joy, and having an open heart. No price tag can be put on these items that you possess.
When you embrace and practice these human traits and qualities, you become rich with resources that do not depreciate. Things like cars and nice clothing wear out over time. Love and kindness only become more valuable over time. These are the things that provide wholeness within you. You become full of the abundance of kindheartedness, dignity, and integrity.You'll find that the things you have are less important when it comes to your happiness. Yes, it is nice at times to have some of the luxuries as a convenience to get through the day. But bottom line, they are not the articles that produce the joy that we seek in our lives.
When it comes to being fulfilled without a household full of arbitrary things, seek more natural ways to feel happy. Explore your natural surroundings. Go outside, observe the trees and flowers, look up at the sky, listen to the birds sing. Learn to appreciate these beautiful and often overlooked pieces of our world. Nothing is artificial about watching your vegetables grow in your garden. There is nothing fake about the sunsets at night. Notice how you feel when you allow the ocean tides to wash over your feet.
3. When everything is too much, give some away!
Simplify your life by consuming and buying less. Declutter your interior spaces; hold onto only the things you absolutely need. At first you may think that you'll miss having those extra goodies, but over time, you'll realize that you really do not need them. Enrich yourself instead with the beauty that surrounds you. Realize, too, that you are a part of that beauty. Acknowledge the beauty that resides in you. Having less physical objects actually keeps your mind and heart clear. It gives you more mental space to explore and grow. Not only will your home be less cluttered, but your physical and emotional being also feels less cluttered. You'll experience an expansiveness from within that is more fulfilling and satisfying. Your eyes will open to the potential you have to become the person that makes you truly happy.
This is a feeling of abundance: an internal sense of plenty, that you have enough for yourself and for others. It's the realization that you cannot contain all this goodness inside yourself. Feelings of joy, love, and gratitude are things you want to share with others. You don't want to hide them away in your china cabinet or locked away in your garage for only your viewing and use. When you possess grace and kindness, you want to share it. When you see the beauty in all things, your natural inclination is to share that wonder with others. It is too hard to contain; you'd rather not be stingy with these types of possessions. Your richness, especially of this nature, should be shared so they, too, can experience the joy and love of life.
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