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7 Reasons Why Materialistic People Are Not As Fulfilled As Imagined

7 Reasons Why Materialistic People Are Not As Fulfilled As Imagined

We all know the story of Ebenezer Scooge in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. He loses love and affection because of his crazy desire for money and it certainly did not bring him happiness or fulfillment. Once the surly miser realizes that materialism cannot bring him happiness, he becomes a changed man because he recognizes the value of love, family and friendship.

Here are 7 reasons why materialistic people fall into the same trap today. They can never gain fulfillment through material things such as owning property, trendy clothes, flashy cars and expensive holidays.

1. They treasure ownership of material objects.

They do not realize that sooner or later, the new apartment or expensive watch is going to lose value or wear out. They should be investing in things that feed their passions instead. Why not buy golf equipment to improve your golfing or go on a writing course to help you hone your writing skills? These are the investments that will last a lifetime. They will never wear out. We know that experiences will enrich our lives in a way that no material objects can.

“The things you own, end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.

2. They are never challenged by their new shiny objects.

Owning the latest smartphone may challenge their tech savvy skills for a while but the novelty soon wears off. The real challenges of life come from experiences such as nurturing a relationship or a garden. These things can give you handsome rewards. When we spend money and time on gardening, we also take advantage of many health benefits such as keeping fit, reducing stress, and improving our mood.

3. They are worried about their economic future.

You often hear materialists talk about a rainy day and having enough put aside for emergencies. Reality shows us that people who concentrate on keeping their financial head above water are actually losing out. When Icelanders were facing economic ruin a few years ago, the ones who actually concentrated on regaining their economic status and wealth had lower levels of happiness. The other group who focused on family and community life were happier people in the end and were more emotionally stable. There is a lesson there for all of us to learn from!

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.” – John Lennon

4. They are suffering from an addiction.

They get excited about buying that new flat screen which soon just becomes “the TV”, after the initial buzz and excitement wears off. In fact, research in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that pleasure in the acquisition of new things is definitely short-lived. However, the desire for short bursts of pleasure becomes an addiction. Many people have gone into debt because of multiple temporary consumer highs.

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Now, you and I know that they will never be truly fulfilled because they do not see the value in personal transformation and emotional well-being. These do not cost a lot of money, but they do require time and love and effort. You cannot buy them.

“It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.” – Bertrand Russell

5. They are fooled by marketers.

Look how they are conned into believing that happiness, fulfillment, acceptance, and worthiness are linked to actually acquiring material objects. Objects bring contentment and joy. The bombardment of these messages is relentless. Nike will make you feel empowered and Apple products are going to make you unique and stylish.

They buy these objects and they wonder why they still feel unhappy. Albert Galbraith hit the nail on the head way back in 1958 when he wrote The Affluent Society. His message was simply that materialism breeds discontent.

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If you are not materialistic, you know that the real issues in life are the ones that have to be worked on and developed, day in and day out. Winning these battles will lead to personal growth, where you’ll become a more loving and kinder person.

6. They are liable to suffer from depression.

Materialistic people never realize that their spending power is not actually contributing in any way to their well-being. They would be shocked if they knew that billionaires tend to have higher rates of depression. The only difference money can make is when extremely poor people get enough to meet their basic needs. Once that is achieved, the pursuit of happiness is an entirely new adventure and cannot be bought.

7. They are more liable to have a marriage break-up.

The research in this particular area is pretty damning. Materialism has been linked to many unhappy relationships. Here is the result of one study which involved 1,700 couples. The unhappy couples involved in the study were those who had high materialism scores. There was a corresponding lack of contentment and affection. The happier couples were those who had lower materialism scores. This study was published in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy.

If you are not materialistic, you possess more empathy and pro-social skills. This will protect any relationship even in the most difficult moments.

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The materialists are all too busy acquiring all their new toys to realize there are other more important things in our lives which will actually bring real happiness. It is only when (or if) they discover these values that they will become well-off in every sense of the word.

Featured photo credit: Fashion lifestyle portrait woman in sunglasses and dress with leopard print, evening sunny ghetto, street fashion photo via shutterstock.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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