Materialism is the endless loop of acquiring things you think make you happy, and realizing they don’t, but never learning from it.
If you’ve ever gone camping, or hiking or traveled somewhere with nothing but a small suitcase, you may have already experienced just how little you need. Food, a roof, some clothes. Maybe a few things more that you really need. Beyond that, you require very little to live. Most of the things you buy are to satisfy your internal sense of lack because you think they bring you joy you currently don’t have. You’re constantly reinforcing I’m not happy.
You may have heard stories about people who achieve something in the pursuit of happiness, and when they finally get it, the joy is short-lived. You can observe this in young children. Within a day or two, the new toy winds up in the corner and a new one is demanded.
When you live life through the lens of judgment, you seek happiness by acquiring things you judge to be positive. But because there is no end to your judging, there is no end to the things you must buy to be happy. Your judging habit is incessant. You cannot keep up with it. It’s a constant demand to acquire more and more stuff. You don’t have enough money or time to buy it all and to enjoy it all. It’s a losing proposition. Sooner or later, most of your stuff winds up in the garage, basement, storage unit or even trash. Owning stuff quickly becomes an energetic burden. It carries the energy of the disappointment of seeking happiness through it, but not getting it. As far as happiness is concerned, most of your belongings are one big let down.
There are some fringe exceptions. For example, an argument can be made for deriving pleasure from things that inspire or admiring things of incredible beauty. But do you need to own them to enjoy them?
Ownership is a strange phenomenon. How does owning something inspire you differently, then when you don’t own it? Ownership may have its roots in securing your survival. It’s good to know you have enough food and shelter. Animals mark their territory, too. But why own anything beyond that? The answer, as always, is your judging habit. You judge others who have stuff. You judge yourself for not having stuff. How much stuff you own determines your ranking in society. Ownership is a sign of success. Not owning a sign of failure.
Building your life around material possessions is draining. Think of all that energy you spend on keeping up with your neighbors. Think of all the time spent working to pay for and maintain this collection of things you attach your happiness to, but you never feel satisfied. All the stuff you buy to set you free, only enslaves you more. The idea of ownership is riddled with absurdity and judgment.
Can there ever be true joy in owning something? Yes, but only if you don’t attach your happiness to it. Your primary joy needs to come from being you. When you live in the unfiltered reality of life, material possessions become secondary. You can still enjoy them immensely, but you’re not obsessed with acquiring them, nor are you devastated about losing them.
Focus on being and put an end to the rollercoaster of the judging life. The less you judge, the less you feel like you need to own. You become free of the burden of upholding your judgments. And to be free to be you is priceless.
How free are you?