Want to Eliminate a Big Stressor in Your Life Right Now?
Why a Materialistic Culture Creates Stress and What You Can Do About It
By: Natalie Viglione
There are solutions to this issue that each of us can choose to take on in our own lives that could start to change the world!
There are so many questions that people have around stress:
The largest question: What causes stress?
One HUGE thing that isn't looked at enough can be summed up in one word: materialism.
We all know that money is required to live, that’s a pretty basic Life Lesson 101 thing. I am not saying that money is evil. I also don’t think all should live without any possessions either. There are other choices that are healthier than these extremes. The energy of money can be so good as it can be used to fuel your purpose, help provide safety, to help others in need. In general, it can be used for good to help this world move forward. It’s never the money that’s evil, but the human behind the money that can be. Money is neutral and we can give it either a positive or negative influence in the world.
Greed and materialism go hand in hand. These things plague humans that have that insatiable desire to own more and more things and they actually believe that is how they can achieve happiness.
Twenty years ago when I was in my early 20’s, I used to struggle with worrying about having “the house” and “the car” and keeping up with those fake Jones’ down the block. Then there were also the purses, shoes, and the clothes to be better than. Better than who? I don’t know, it didn’t matter who! I used to think that I cared a lot about them so I used to have greed and materialism in the blood.
Then, before I turned twenty-five, something profound happened. I decided (quite abruptly) to rip myself from that environment to create a new existence. Leaving a narcissistic ex-husband and all the things that came with his life. I chose to tear myself down (made some bad decisions, I fully admit) and to repair and rebuild to get to the core of who I truly am. I took all those things away piece by piece so that I could awaken fully to what life is really all about. And, this helped me understand how to get on the right path looking within, not out there.
Life simply is NOT about houses, cars, or shoes. Not even close. There are a lot of wise minds throughout history that can attest to this.
Great men [humans] are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force – that thoughts rule the world. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I then started on the path of consciousness while still being that corporate woman working my way up that ladder and getting to those six-figure paychecks and senior-level positions. Now, I fuel a path of entrepreneurship. I had to make a choice to be healthier in this career-driven, now purpose-driven path. I knew I had to change the way I managed myself. I decided that I was going to start to:
Because of that shift, I wound up living in fabulous cities like San Francisco and New York City. I’ve had unbelievable adventures in travel and have met amazing souls. I met my now-husband by making a choice to experience life and all its wonder, take risks and go to far places. I shifted to a mindset of serving others instead of just serving me. When someone else needs, I give what I can give them. I volunteer time when I can. Those kinds of choices to serve others also helped me see that we are all connected, one person’s actions directly affect another.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The other important fact here is that money is energy and it can ebb and flow. Life can happen and everything can shift overnight and the changes can rip apart the fabric of a person’s existence. These things come in the form of a layoff, a company goes under, a person gets sick, etc.
In fact, I know this firsthand because I am currently having to rebuild my business after almost a year and a half of health issues and so much energy spent (and the dollars) trying to figure out what was wrong with me. A time where I had to put a lot of things on the back burner and seeking help and traction in the wrong place. My own strategy got screwed up, and that’s just the beginning. And all of this came out of nowhere and smacked me right in the face! None of it related to me eating fried food or soda every day or never working out, in fact, I did quite the opposite. So, this wasn’t a “you knew this was coming” situation, and the lesson here is that things can change FAST and you can’t always see them coming.
Since the essence of life is shit can happen, the solution is that we’ve got to know how to live in a more neutral space and being greedy/materialistic is not the answer. In fact, it’s a dark and very hard road. The broken cycle of wanting more and more keeps people in a place of fear, living in a state of anxiety. What if I lose my job? What if my company lays me off? The thought cycles that make the important thing called sleep go bye-bye.
Having a focus on materialistic things in life, and trying to explain love in terms of material things is a broken and twisted cycle. One that’s often handed down in a family, or as a diseased mindset caught from general societal pressures and social media BS. That pressure that if you just get that other house, that bigger house, or that other car, etc. THEN you will be happy and your life is a success. Sadly, those concepts couldn’t be farther from life’s truth and purpose.
Having an obsession with shopping and acquiring stuff, an example of consumerism, this is fueled by the same greedy, dark desires and leads down the same dangerous path.
“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. It’s associated with anxiety, depression and broken relationships.”
– George Monbiot
There are many studies that show this is true. A series of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion showed that “as people become more materialistic, their well-being (good relationships, autonomy, sense of purpose and the rest) diminishes. As they become less materialistic, it [well-being] rises.”
The dark path is that most people today live one job loss away from financial ruin and/or bankruptcy. Imagine that, especially because those things that are being purchased are just to tell other people about them. You know those kinds of people because they post it all over social to say “hey, look at me and my new [insert pointless object here].” That’s ONLY to gloat and to ensure others notice how “successful they’re being.”
This is no joke. Millions of Americans are just one paycheck away from ‘financial disaster’ as was found in a study conducted and noted in MarketWatch (May 2019). That means the new car, that house, or whatever materialistic item purchased that is used to say look at us could be the very things that cause relationships to break, create a destiny leading towards financial ruin, and so much more. Why? Because there is NO security anymore.
But, all that stuff looks good on social media, doesn’t it? This is mostly why the broken cycle keeps going; to look good on the outside. People feel better if they can have “that bigger house” or some other thing and then tell people about it, called gloating. An important fact here is that those people you’re constantly comparing yourself to on social aren’t living the luxury life that you think. Remember, you don’t see behind the closed doors and the struggles, the REALITY of what constant desiring of materialistic items can do to relationships and lives.
So what needs to happen?
It’s pretty simple in the way that we can choose a more conscious path. Less focus on things and more focus on being of service, living with a purpose, and essentially just the simple idea to choose a conscious path that isn’t focused on stuff.
We all need homes, we all deserve nice stuff to make us feel safe and cozy, but there is a huge difference between what one needs and what one wants. There is also a HUGE difference between how a person handles their life. A person that goes and gets things and does NOT gloat is the kind of human that is not seeking attention nor glory from others to fill a void within them.
However, that other person that gloats so that they can feel better about themselves and try to induce envy in others is absolutely trying to fill a void in themselves. The humans that say “I’m so blessed for [insert material things here]” doesn’t understand the concept. That is just a way to gloat and to try to induce envy in others to desire what they have. They seek to receive those envious remarks on social media saying “you’re so lucky” so they can feel better about themselves.
Neel Burton M.D. talks about envy beautifully in his article on Psychology Today called The Psychology and Philosophy of Envy, “In life, we are rich not only by what we have but also, and mostly, by what we do not. It is all too easy to forget that the investment banker or hedge fund manager has effectively sold his soul for his ‘success,’ with so little spirit left in him that he no longer has the vital capacity to enjoy the advantages that he has acquired. Such a man is not to be envied but pitied. To keep a lid on envy, we have to keep on reframing, and reframing requires perspective.”
In the process that I went through to begin to strip materialism and that greedy bone out of my body (by the way, this is something I have to check myself on regularly), there has been that profound realization that having experiences in life meant way more than owning any material item. Things like going to that new place to experience a new culture/city/way of life, being able to live in different places because you’re not in over your head on all those multiple house mortgages every month (one paycheck away from collapse), meeting new awesome humans, being secluded in a cabin and writing, recreating nature via painting, owning a business where we can serve others to bring forth purpose into the world. These things provide MORE than any materialistic item (house, car, shoe, purse) ever could.
We have choices and if more humans shifted their focus on having amazing life experiences, not that bigger house, this could create some massive change. If humans stopped gloating and just did things so as not to seek glory and had more of an intense focus to become better humans, that would create change. By choosing to focus on expressing the soul’s purpose, serving others, and living life in a non-consumerism, less greedy/materialistic way, that could change the world. These behavioral and mindset shifts would have a greater effect on humanity overall, there’s no doubt.
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