>> Oct 13, 2016
The allure of owning material things is easy to understand. No matter what their upbringing is like, it's only natural for people to crave a better life for themselves and their family. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things it can be rather difficult to sort out just what is necessary and what is extraneous. Buying things for the sole purpose of having them can rapidly become psychologically addictive, something that the millions of people all over the world who engage in "retail therapy" on a regular basis can surely attest to. However, there are some facts implying that obsessive material concerns might not be the contributor to our genuine happiness.
Material possessions are temporary
By their very nature, all possessions eventually go bust. Sure, they may look nice and shiny in the beginning, but as the inevitable process of wear-and-tear starts taking hold, all objects begin to perish, spoil or fade. You can delay the process by taking care of them, but sooner or later everything from furniture pieces to electrical appliances will feel the effects of Father Time. Having a certain amount of pride in the things you own is normal, but it's important to ensure that it doesn't veer into outright attachment, which invariably turns to disappointment as they break down.
Most items end up as clutter
One of the worst parts about relying on physical products to make yourself happy has to do with the fact that most of the objects we own end up cluttering our homes in the end. From the clothes we no longer wear to the gadgets we no longer use, every house is filled with a plethora of items that have no objective value. Instead of recycling, most of us decide for endless collecting and piling up of our possessions. Studies have shown that clutter can significantly affect the value of your home, which makes the process of decluttering an immensely beneficial one for both your wallet and your peace of mind.
Having too much stuff creates a false sense of self
A subtler but no less insidious danger of owning too many things lies in the false sense of self they tend to create. For instance, let's take a person who loves creativity and art in all its forms. One path of achieving this can be found through the purchase of many beautiful objects, be they paintings or books or musical instruments. But this is the path of least resistance, the one that offers immediate rewards without fully engaging the person in any actual creative processes. While there's nothing wrong with that, it can trick a person into believing they already are who they want to become, and thus act as an obstacle rather than an aid on their journey towards self-fulfillment.
The real cost of material obsession
For many, the cost of physical possessions can be boiled down to their material value. But this belies the actual time and effort that went into producing the money that was used to purchase them. The cost of a brand new TV set, for instance, is not only limited to the dollars and cents on its price tag, but also includes the amount of time you spent working in order to get it. Seen in this light, you may discover that many of the objects you desire may not ultimately be worth their cost in man-hours, and that the time you consume working to obtain them may very well be better spent in another fashion.
There's always something better around the corner
Aside from the ever-present prospect of things falling apart due to age and attrition, you also have to face the risk of them becoming obsolete as soon as new models and styles hit the market. In today's world, especially, most products have a remarkably limited shelf life. A cutting edge smartphone today will be nothing but scrapheap just a couple years down the line. What's more, most product designers actually ensure that their items will need to be replaced after a certain time due to planned obsolescence.
These are just some of the reasons why having physical assets doesn't automatically make you a happier person overall. What is of utmost importance is that under no circumstances, a person should not relate his or her value as a person to the value of the assets in his or her possession. It is therefore important to realize that, in a way, less is indeed more, and a simple life is infinitely preferable to a clutter-filled existence.