TW Viewpoint | Materialism Merry-Go-Round

March 15, 2017 | Winston Gosse

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Does "a person's life really consist in the abundance of his possessions?" Does happiness and contentment result from the accumulation of things? Are you stuck on the Materialism Merry-Go-Round?

Does "a person's life really consist in the abundance of his possessions?" Does happiness and contentment result from the accumulation of things? Are you stuck on the Materialism Merry-Go-Round?

A Huffington Post blog by Mr. Jon Horford dated March 9th 2015 states: "As human beings, it seems that once we attain what we think will make us happy, we grow bored quickly and need something new in order to feel satisfied."

He goes on to say: "We are addicted to what we don't have."

In fact the more we have, the more we crave, where enough is never enough!!

There is an ancient Bible Proverb that states, "... the eye is never satisfied with seeing nor the ear with hearing." (Ecclesiastes 1:8)

What is being described is a condition of not being content with what we possess despite the quantity and quality of one's material possessions.

Media of all stripes label us as consumers, and that is an apt description as it seems we are "consumed with consuming". Whether by means of television, radio, shopping channels, the Internet, sporting events, billboards etc. we are bombarded with advertising encouraging materialistic pursuits. Images and words of persuasion telling us that we must have it and actually need to have it.

Persuasive cries such as "You owe it to yourself and "you deserve to treat yourself" and there is even one well known add which tells us we in fact "deserve it."

Does this materialistic pursuit though have quantifiable negative health impact?

It has been proven that wanting and desiring more stuff is oftentimes associated with depression and anxiety. In an article written by Mr George Monbiot in the Guardian Newspaper 9 December 2013, on the issue of Materialism: "An impressive body of psychological research suggests that materialism, a trait that can afflict both rich and poor, and which the researchers define as 'a value system that is preoccupied with possessions and the social image they project', is both socially destructive and self-destructive. It smashes the happiness and peace of mind of those who succumb to it."

He goes on to say: "There has long been a correlation observed between materialism, a lack of empathy and engagement with others, and unhappiness.

A series of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion in July 2013 showed that as people become more materialistic, their wellbeing (good relationships, autonomy, sense of purpose) diminishes, but as they become less materialistic, it rises."

Other studies have shown a close relationship between materialism and loneliness. This view is summarized nicely in this title from The Atlantic "The Loneliness Loop: Why Feeling Sad Makes Us Shop and Shopping Makes Us Sad."

So it seems people who are cut off from attachment and social contact with others attach themselves to possessions and things, hoping to fill the void in their life.

So how can we get off the materialism merry-go-round that is so prevalent today? Maybe we have to come to realize that more isn't always better and that happiness can't be bought in a store or purchased online.

Maybe what is required is a redefining of the "good life" and to ask ourselves, what is really important.

In an article in the July/August 2010 Tomorrow's World, Rod McNair concludes: "The key is in recognizing that the "good life" is not measured by how many cars we have, television channels we can access, or square feet of house we can own. It is not measured by fast Internet access or fancy cell phone. It is not based on credit cards or bank accounts."

Rather than valuing that which cannot bring lasting happiness, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate our priorities and redefine our definition of the "good life" as one that is not dependent on materialism.

In this secular, materialistic culture we find ourselves immersed in, maybe it is more important to ask the deeper and introspective question as to what is really of value in life and maybe even the deeper and more probing question as to the real meaning and purpose of life.

Yes, maybe it is important to truly refocus and get off the materialistic merry-go-round of today's world.

I'm Winston Gosse for Tomorrow's World Viewpoint.

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