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7 Reasons Why You’re Materialistic When It Doesn’t Make You Happier

7 Reasons Why You’re Materialistic When It Doesn’t Make You Happier

You only need so much to live a good and healthy life. Then there are a certain number of possessions that account for convenience. What is the rest for? Why do the more expensive brands exist? A $100 T-shirt is made of the same materials as the $10 one. It’s not even necessarily held together better. You don’t even get happier after you buy stuff that you think will make your life better. In fact, you’re most likely happier just thinking about buying the stuff. Some studies even suggest that being more materialistic increases your chances of becoming miserable.

So, why do we keep buying items we don’t need and that don’t make us happy?

1. We Are Influenced By The “Grass Is Greener On The Other Side” Syndrome

Whether or not human beings are inherently prone to jealousy, we often let it cloud our judgment. When jealousy makes you perceive something to be better than it actually is because you don’t have it, it’s called, as you probably know, “the grass is greener (on the other side of the fence)” syndrome or effect.

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You might notice a guy move in across the street. Not only does he have a bigger house and car, but every time you see him, he’s smirking. Lucky bastard! For all you know, he could be paying down a gigantic mortgage, and leasing the car. He could be on his last legs and downright miserable. But our first reaction is to jump to conclusions. Perhaps it’s instinct to predict beyond what we have reasonable evidence to assume. Either way, it’s part of what makes us so prone to materialistic tendencies.

2. Items Are More Easily Attainable Than Alternatives

What I mean is, it’s often easier to set your sights on a particular item, than choosing to focus on enjoying every day with what you have. Because it seems more like progress, more logical, than simply accepting your existence how it is. So the new car gets priority. And then it’s a bigger apartment. And then it’s to renovate the apartment. There is literally no end to new items to attain you could line up as part of your ideal path in life. And that’s what makes it so dangerous. You don’t get out unless you notice. And you don’t notice unless you want to.

3. Hoarding Is An Instinct

Some theories suggest that our materialistic ways are caused by a leftover trait that was once crucial to surviving: the tendency to hoard valuable materials for later use. When what you perceive as useful or valuable is manipulated, that’s when it starts to become unhealthy. Plus, in this age of convenience, there are many instinctive responses and behaviors that can actually end up sabotaging our happiness and even health.

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4. The Desire To Fit In Compels Us

The rise of new technology is perhaps the biggest testament to this aspect of human behavior. Whenever a new technology gets out, first everybody techie “has to have it.” Then it reaches a certain point where most people’s social circles are filled with people that have it, and then even though they were initially apathetic, suddenly they have to have it, too. Consider a man who didn’t find his house lacking until he saw himself surrounded by bigger houses.

5. Commercial Conditioning Influences Us More Than We Think

While I would not say that we are utterly brainwashed, the media influences us more than you might think. The past few years, advertising companies have mostly been criticized for the unannounced use of Photoshop. But that’s not all they’re doing. Have you ever noticed how advertisements tend to show very pleased or happy people using the product in question? Not only do advertisements always try to force you to make the connection between their product and happiness, but they also try to make you blame your unhappiness on not having said product. Just think of a stereotypical commercial where a person is troubled, the product shows up and all of a sudden they are overjoyed. And it’s not just in commercials either. With product placement being extremely prevalent in block busters and probably some of your favorite television shows, there’s almost no getting away.

And even if you’re aware of their game, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s less effective. Just think about all the bad decisions you have made in your life, perfectly aware of what you were doing.

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6. Our Society Glorifies Item Possession

How many times have you heard, “I wish I had that house.” Or, “If only I had that car…” You might have even said so yourself. This is the most simple of many symptoms that item possession is glorified in our society. A more tangible example is when someone sees a aesthetically mismatched couple, they will often jump the gun and assume that “he/she must be rich.” And while most of us do not let wealth overshadow other qualities, there are certainly people who do. And it’s fair to say that to most of us, wealth is considered a positive attribute.

7. We Crave Acceptance, Love And Status

This is where our craving for acceptance, for reverence, for status comes in. Most of us are are genetically wired to crave the acceptance and love of our fellow women and men. This is probably to ensure our survival as a species, as it would make it easier for the common good to override the search for personal pleasure. But it doesn’t end there. When you convince someone that a way to get accepted, to get liked better, to achieve status, is through the garnering of possessions, he or she will pile them up until they reach the clouds. And when that person finds their cries of acceptance hollow, their statements of love empty, they will pile up some more, now convinced that it is the only answer.

Some argue that focusing on goals, whether materialistic or otherwise, can shift your focus away from what is truly important: your daily life. Normal days make up the bulk of your existence, and if you don’t enjoy them, it’s usually not from the lack of a new car. When the new car arrives, and your life doesn’t change, you lose the illusion that it would make your life better, and have to face the reality that there other things between you and happiness. You can either face facts, and appreciate that a bigger house isn’t likely to be the solution either, or get stuck in a vicious circle until you meet a very rude awakening at a later point in life.

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When you’re on your deathbed, what do you think you will recall? The houses you owned? The cars? Or the biggest surprises of your life, the experiences hardest to forget, your greatest friends, and time spent with the ones you loved most?

Most of us would likely be better off if we chose to consciously prioritize people and experiences, over money and possessions.

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

The greatest books are defined as classics for a reason. Written by the greatest literary minds of their time, they have universal themes, characters, experiences, emotions and perspectives that are still relevant today. Some of them are the very inspiration from which entire modern genres of literary fiction have sprung up from.

If you love reading, here’s a perfect reading list for you. Even if you aren’t so much into reading, here’re 10 reasons to love reading.

Everyone should read at least once for these 30 books — some are well known classics, others are modern giants.  All are well worth reading at least once in your life!

1. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

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    Published in 1960, this timeless classic explores human behaviour and the collective conscience of The Deep South in the early 20th century. Humour entwines the delicate strands of prejudice, hatred, hypocrisy, love and innocence to create one of the best novels ever written.

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    2. 1984, by George Orwell

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      Although 1984 has passed us by, George Orwell’s dystopian, totalitarian world of control, fear and lies has never been more relevant. Delve into the life of Winston Smith as he struggles with his developing human nature in a world where individuality, freewill and love are forbidden.

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      3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling

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        I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of Harry Potter, but have you read the books? Join Harry Potter as he begins his journey into the world of magic, where he is the celebrated Boy Who Lived. Visit Hogwarts, meet your favourite characters and watch Harry grow into the one of the most famous literary characters in the world.

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        4. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

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          Middle Earth is a wonderful, expansive fantasy world filled with turmoil, heroes, evil and innocence. Although our protagonist Frodo Baggins’ quest seems impossible to complete, this trilogy is a tale of triumph in the most impossible circumstances.

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          5. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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            Published in 1925, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby explores the decadence of the Jazz Age, and one man’s introduction into a world where even those with the most indulgent lives cannot earn love.

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            6. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

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              One of the most famous novels of all time, Pride And Prejudice details the courtship of two opposed characters in a world where manners and courtesy are of the utmost importance.

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              7. The Diary Of A Young Girl, by Anne Frank

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                Unforgettable and deeply influential, Anne Frank’s diary is a raw account of a young girl’s life as she hides from the Nazis. Despite her circumstances, Anne believes that people are still good at heart and that the world is full of beauty: she will change your life.

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                8. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

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                  Set in Germany during 1939, The Book Thief follows Liesel as she rescues books from the tyranny of Nazi rule. Meanwhile, her family has hidden a Jewish fighter in their basement and death looks down on the family, narrating our tale. Experience bravery that is rarely found in the world, and friendship that is formed in the most unlikely of situations.

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                  9. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

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                    Although the movies are inexplicably long, The Hobbit was originally written as a short children’s book. Meet your favourite characters for the first time as the unforgettable Bilbo Baggins traverses the harsh landscapes of Middle Earth to challenge a dragon.

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                    10. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

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                      Join four sisters, each with their own prominent personality, as they come of age in charming 19th Century New England. Experience their struggles and revel in their flaws, as these girls become strong women.

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                      11. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

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                        Books are forbidden, and it is our main character Guy Montag’s job to burn any books he comes across. Often compared to George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s dystopian world is an unsettling commentary on Western societies’ addiction and dependence on the media and conformity.

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                        12. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

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                          Arguably one of the most influential fictional heroines of all time, Jane Eyre is a strong, unbroken women despite her troubled childhood and repressed Victorian society.
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                          13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell

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                            This famous 1945 satire, examines the realistic risks of revolution and the dynamics animals will inevitably give in to.

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                            14. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

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                              Set in The South during The Civil War, chances are if you love the movie you’ll love the book. Although the main character and the world she lives in is loathsome, readers’ opinions are twisted as this novel dishes out a fated justice when both Scarlett and The South lose their wars.

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                              15. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

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                                Starring the original cynical adolescent, The Catcher In The Rye explores the challenges and isolation of adolescence. Decipher your own message as you follow sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield, in this novel that has split audiences for decades.

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                                16. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White

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                                  Team up with Charlotte, a loving and generous spider, and Fern, a farmers daughter as they try to save Wilbur the piglet from becoming breakfast. Charlotte’s Web is a compelling reminder to bask in the simplistic wonders of everyday life, and to be kind to all living creatures.

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                                  17. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

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                                    Another renowned fantasy world, Narnia is the home of hundreds of magnificent creatures each with their own origins, morals and ideals. Let you imagination run wild as you enter the wardrobe and meet some of the most famous literary characters in history.

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                                    18. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

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                                      Published in 1939, this novel set during The Great Depression follows one Oklahoma family as they are forced to travel to California. Experience America in a tale where it’s people are divided into the haves and have-nots, the powerful and the powerless.

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                                      19. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

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                                        This classic novel follows the lives of boys marooned on an island as they regress into savages; and their beautiful, enjoyable island existence collapses into a primitive and cruel nightmare.

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                                        20. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

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                                          A story of true friendship, The Kite Runner follows Amir as he tries to find the only true friend he’s ever had – despite abandoning him due to ethnic and religious differences that were prominent in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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                                          21. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

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                                            Of Mice And Men is a complex story of a friendship between two migrant workers: George Milton and Lennie Small, in California. Watch their friendship develop as the pair work towards their modest dreams of owning their own land and pets.

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                                            22. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

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                                              Following eighteen years as a political prisoner, Dr Manette is released and returns to England with his daughter Lucie. There, two very different men fall in love with Lucie and become entwined in a tale of love and sacrifice.

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                                              23. Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

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                                                Perhaps the most famous love story ever written, Romeo and Juliet is an epic tragedy that explores the euphoria of desire and the tragedy of revenge.

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                                                24. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

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                                                  Grab a towel and accompany human Arthur Dent on a fantastic adventure across the galaxy. Learn not to take the universe so seriously and forget any meaning you’ve applied to anything in your life, because we all know the real meaning of life is 42.

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                                                  25. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

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                                                    Published in 1847, this passionate and harrowing story of love, rivalry and revenge follows Catherine Earnshaw and her father’s adopted foundling Heathcliff as they grow into very different adults.

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                                                    26. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

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                                                      Winner of multiple awards, The Color Purple is a devastating tale that tackles the lives of colored women in 1930s USA. Censored and challenged, the harsh reality displayed in The Color Purple will leave you shaken.

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                                                      27. Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

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                                                        Bizarre and curious, Alice In Wonderland explores the potential of imagination and the reality of fiction. If you’re a fan of escaping the real world, this is definitely the book for you.

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                                                        28. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

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                                                          A combination of gothic thriller, cautionary tale and romance novel, Frankenstein is a story like no other. Written by Mary Shelley when she was just eighteen, Frankenstein prompts readers to ask themselves some truly shattering questions: what makes us human? What do we owe to one another as living creatures? How far can science push the boundaries of nature?

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                                                          29. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

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                                                            Often titled The Great American Novel, The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn is a deep and complex tale of friendship, adolescence and shifting societal norms.

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                                                            30. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

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                                                              Although Vonnegut himself admits there are few characters or confrontations in this book, the impact of his novel is undeniable.

                                                              We travel through life with our protagonist Billy Pilgrim as he experiences World War II from a rather unique perspective – that is, he’s been abducted from his home planet of Tralfamadore. Rich and deeply funny, this tale aims to discourage us from war and murder that the authorities force the public into.

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                                                              Featured photo credit: Prasanna Kumar via unsplash.com

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