BY SOFO ARCHON
In the materialistic world that we live in, we worship objects and derive pleasure solely from them. We want to possess more and more, thinking that only this way we can live in joy. Our thirst for more material things is never quenched, and we end up even more thirsty, addicted, sad, exhausted.
The reason why our thirst is never satisfied is that substitutes cannot fulfill our needs.
How can a big bank balance substitute inner peace?
How can a shiny car substitute loving attention?
How can possessions substitute our lost connection with people?
What we are searching for cannot be found in material objects, but in how we relate with our ourselves, the people close to us, and our wider environment.
The prison of materialism is something that almost all people inhabit, but only a few escape from it, because most don’t even recognize that there is a prison and that they are confined by it, just like fish can’t discern the sea and understand that they live in it. Unaware of their slavery, how can they seek freedom?
If you sense that the prison of materialism exists and surrounds you, the following realizations might help you to escape from it and regain the freedom that you lost long time ago.
You have enough. If you are reading this article now, it means that you have internet connection, a computer or another electronic device, and a house to live in, which means that you have enough to cover your basic needs and satisfy at least some of your wants. On Earth, however, billions of people don’t even have enough food to eat, clean water to drink, and a shelter to live under. We, living in a materialistic environment, always want to possess more and more, not realizing what other people are lacking, and instead of finding ways to help them live like every human being deserves to live, we only think about our personal superficial gratification, which comes through the acquirement of material things that don’t actually make our life better in any way. Looking at your condition from a wider perspective will help you see that you have much more than you think, and you might start realizing what should truly concern us all.
What you own, owns you. Objects are good to use, but not good when we are being used by them. The more things you possess, the more you will want to protect your possessions, and the more attached to them you are, the more insecure you will feel, which can make you obsessed to acquire more without end, just in case you lose what belongs to you now. Having material things that are serving you to improve the quality of your life is perfectly fine, but if you let them take over your life, they can turn into harsh dictators that will never allow you to be care-free, at peace, and happy.
Joy is derived from sharing, not hoarding. To love and be happy means to give what you have and share your experiences with others. Studies have found again and again that helping others contributes to your happiness and overall well-being, and that healthy relationships with other people play the most important role in determining how happy we are. We believe that when we hoard things we are better off, but in reality this is only making us greedy and alienated, which is the sure-fire way to become depressed and unfulfilled.
Everything you have will one day be taken away from you. Physical death is approaching you, moment to moment, and everything that belongs to you–even you body–will sooner or later be taken away from you, whether you like it or not. Therefore, the more attached you are to material objects, the more difficult it will be for you to let go of what you possess, and one day you will find yourself losing everything you think is yours right in front of your bare eyes, causing immense anguish in you. In reality, nothing belongs to us–we are just visitors here, and the more we let go of the idea that some things are our own, the more free and at peace with ourselves and the world we’ll be.
Life can be lived in joy and celebration, only if we realize that happiness and security don’t lie in objects, but in experiences of love, creativity, and connection with our fellow human beings and the natural world.
Thanks to The Unbounded Spirit for this article