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.
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.
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.
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.