One of my steps of living a healthier, happier lifestyle is to STRESS LESS! So I wanted to share a bit about the topic of materialism and how it may be stealing your joy and ultimately causing you stress. I read a book a while ago called Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn. I’m not going to say it was an easy read because it is very thick and small print, but the information contained is invaluable. It helps you to gain perspective and remember why you are here on this earth. In this world of consumerism and materialism it is so easy to get caught up in thinking “if I only had “fill in the blank“, then I would be happy. What are you filling your life with and are you truly happy? What do you really long for? Of course I have my list of wants and wishes (A Bigger house without having to pay the hefty price tag plus a gardener and housekeeper to go along with it, a prius, a really cool bicycle, the list goes on lol). Heck, I even have some of my wishes all neatly organized and pinned here! lol But are those things I absolutely NEED?
Will those things truly make me happy? Absolutely not. Those are just “extra” things that fancy me and would be fun to have. Do I get my fulfillment and joy from these things? Yeah, sure they can make me giddy and smile for a bit, even make me “happy” for a moment. Some of these things may even be useful, but this is not where my true JOY comes from. These “things” will not fulfill the deepest desires of my heart and make me happy… so I have learned.
I did go through a phase when I started making more money and began getting influenced by those around me and I tried to fulfill myself this way. Here is a silly example, but I remember I got into perfumes somehow and began collecting them and wanting them. Not that you can’t love perfume and own any, but for me this was NOT normal. I never even wore perfume because they gave me a headache (probably because of all the synthetic nasty things in most of them, but I didn’t learn that until later lol)! I just wanted them because I saw other people have them and that was the next “thing” I had to add to my list of must haves. That was short-lived and not one of my best moments. But you live and learn and it was a great lesson for me. I ended up trading all of my perfumes in a trade group on facebook for bags of organic frozen fruit to make smoothies with. Score! And since then, I’ve gone through my entire house, minimized and gotten rid of things that I don’t use or truly want or need. Little did I know that my heart would change and I’d feel amazing and happier with LESS things and less money. The grass is NOT always greener on the other side!! Just check out this study here that shows that making more money will not make you happier. I thank God every day for teaching me this lesson early.
I am not perfect by any means, but I fight daily to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. Like when I became a mom for the first time and then became a stay at home mom after my second son was born. Wow! That was definitely an adjustment! ha I loved my job as a full time physical education teacher and coach, but I’ve learned so much since becoming a mom and wouldn’t change it for anything! The one thing I WOULD change is going back and saving/investing ALL of my income and just living off my husbands like we do now. Wow! What a game changer that would have been (that is another post! ha) But anyway, since staying home some of the things I have been reminded of and also learned are to enjoy life’s simple moments and to focus on what truly matters. And to me that means: To live simply. To be stricter with my budget and finances (again…that is a whole other post)! To be frugal. To be more selfless. To love more. To stay close to God and find my strength in him. If this is out of whack then everything else suffers! To be about my purpose. To help others. To give. To live a healthy lifestyle. To spend lots of time with my family and build memories. To show Grace. To build my friendships. And ultimately to find true JOY. And that is NOT found in money or material possessions.
All this being said I am NOT saying money and possessions are evil, but are we putting our hope in these things? Do you find self worth and happiness in the amount of money you make or things you own? Do you get anxious and stressed trying to keep up with the Jones’? Do you work so much ONLY because you want more things? Are you drowning in debt? Do you define your success based on the kind of car you drive or how big your house is? Do you do these things only because you want to impress people? If so think about how you may be missing out on the true joy and peace you can experience.
Below you will find 4 of the 10 points of the dangers of materialism that I wanted to share from the book.
From chapter 4 entitled “Dangers of Materialism”: The Soul is a spiritual thing, riches are of an earthly extract, and how can these fill a spiritual substance? How man does thirst after the world, but, alas, it falls short of his expectation. It cannot fill the hiatus and longing of his soul. -THOMAS WATSON
How Materialism brings us to ruin:
1. Materialism prevents or destroys our spiritual life. “There was once in a man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.” -Philosopher BLAISE PASCAL Are you trying to find fulfillment God or material possessions?
2. Materialism blinds us to the curses of wealth. When we begin crediting ourselves with the skills, opportunities, and providential blessings that are in reality God’s gifts, unearned and underserved our wealth can turn into a curse. One of life’s greatest ironies is the change that occurs when a poor and humble person who walks with God is rewarded with prosperity. Often the person’s attention gradually turns away from the Lord. Perhaps the “blessing” is no longer a true blessing but a curse in disguise. The greatest blessing would be one that would return us to following God wholeheartedly. Having wealth is a big responsibility and liability. How do you use your wealth? Does it draw you closer to God?
3. Materialism brings us unhappiness and anxiety. Materialism is the mother of anxiety. Earthly treasures are so temporary and uncertain. For example, during significant drops in the stock market there have been many episodes of suicide and emotional distress. Dr. Aaron Beck conducted a 10-year study of patients hospitalized with suicidal intentions. One of the 15 major risk factors was “financial resources”. “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness” -JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER “I was happier when doing a mechanic job”- HENRY FORD “The care of $200 million is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it.” -W.H. VANDERBILT
4. Materialism ends in futility What follows are Soloman’s statements in Ecclesiastes 5:10-15. The statements after that are Randy, the authors. “Whoever loves money never has money enough.” the more you have, the more you want. “Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” the more you have, the less your satisfied. “As goods increase, so do those who consume them.” the more you have, the more people (including the government) come after it. “And what benefit, are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?” the more you have, the more you realize it doesn’t meet your needs. “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.” the more you have, the more you have to worry about. “I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner.” the more you have, the more you can hurt yourself by holding onto it. “or wealth lost through some misfortune” the more you have, the more you have to lose. “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.” The more you have, the more you’ll leave behind. After his years as the world’s richest man, Soloman said, “ When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everthing was meaningless, a chasing after the winde; nothing was gained under the sum” (Ecclesiastes 2:11) “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10) To become satisfied, you must change your attitude toward wealth. Money itself is never the answer, What we need is a radically different perspective on money and a genuine opportunity to do something with it that will make our lives meaningful instead of meaningless.
There is so much more in this book that I can share, but that would make this post way too long. lol You can pick up your own copy Money, Possessions, HERE
if you want to dig deeper.
Anyone else out there that can relate to any of this?