Materialism VS true well-being
WELL-BEING IS MORE THAN PHYSICAL COMFORT.
The ability to live a good life depends much more on our level of mental and spiritual well-being than merely physical needs. Sure, some level of physical comfort and wellbeing is necessary, even essential, but this is far removed from the exaggerated importance people typically ascribe to it.
MATERIAL PLEASURES DON’T REPLACE PURPOSE.
We work so hard and long to provide physical comfort and security, aiming to live in some relative luxury. But perhaps those fancy houses, fashion, restaurant meals and holidays are not the real purpose of our lives. Maybe our life should not just be “all about style” as so many young people believe today.
SKILLS & JOB TITLES ARE NOT OUR LIFE’S MEANING.
Even our prized skills and occupation may not warrant the pivotal role and status that we ascribe it. Perhaps inwardly we use our achievements or the lack of them as an excuse not to consider what else might be important. We let this distract us from finding the deeper meaning to our life.
MATERIALISTIC GOALS UNBALANCE SOCIETY.
Our western, “materialistic” and “consumer” lifestyle is visibly flawed by the resultant over-consumption and resource degradation.
SOCIETAL CONDITIONING MAINTAINS THE NORM.
Societal expectations have much to answer for. Our parental and social conditioning is such a powerful influence in our lives. Without us consciously questioning these influences in our individual lives we are condemned to the status quo. But how do we actually go about changing at this profound level?
BE CAREFUL OF THE CYCLE OF DISSATISFACTION.
A life of style, acquisition and over-consumption simply does not satisfy us long-term. It brings us only short-term pleasures which then need further reinforcement and ongoing escalation. This unhealthy cycle eventually becomes apparent to us, but often too late in our lives. We therefore suffer a chronic lack of deep satisfaction and inner peace.
QUESTION THE STATUS QUO.
How do we address all this? First we must start individually by questioning the norm and the status quo. We must realize that our usual behaviour has been set by social conditioning. This includes our parental influence, schooling, peers, employers, our media and government.
AWAKENING IS ONLY THE START.
When we truly realize this we may become unsettled, a little angry or sometimes a lot. But this realization alone is not enough! It still will not satisfy us long term. This awakening is only a transient phase. It’s a belated call for some kind of help. We need a much longer-term fix.
WE GET DIVERTED AWAY FROM POSITIVE CHANGE.
Instead of awakening, too often we opt for more temporary distractions, diversions or a drug! We certainly have lots of these readily available. These include our social drugs such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol plus many “medically acceptable” pharmacologic agents including sedatives and antidepressants. Others will opt for the ‘harder’ illicit drugs because of their more powerful mind-numbing effect and risk their highly addictive and destructive potential.
ADDICTIVE BEHAVIORS KEEP US STUCK.
If it’s not a drug-induced effect or “high” that we utilize then it’s often some particular addictive behaviour. These include dependence on the more subtle “highs” of food, exercise, sports, sex, relationships or other social diversions. Over time we learn to crave these patterns and become addicted to them. Eventually, the temporary pleasure they provide wanes.
SOME WITHDRAW INTO SELF-REJECTION.
Alternatively, some people punish themselves even further by an emotional rejection of self and even self-harm. Others more subtly withdraw further into themselves leading to cynicism, despair, depression or disease. Some will even consider suicide because there just seems to be no escape from it all, no end to the suffering. They feel that pain so intensely.
WHAT IS THE HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVE?
These are some of the alternative ways in which we try to “function”. In reality, it’s merely a dysfunctional existence. Why can’t we master a better way? What actually is the alternative? If our ability to live an optimal life is not determined by physical needs and the acquisition of material goods and relationships, then just what do we really need?
SPIRITUAL HEALTH PROMOTES TOTAL WELL-BEING.
The answer is mental and spiritual health. Our mental or emotional well-being is a potent factor in total well-being. It even allows us to cope with a reduced level of physical health and even for reversing this. We achieve emotional and mental health by having a sense of meaning and purpose to our lives. By living our purpose, we are contributing to society. By understanding our meaning, we feel whole.
YOU CAN’T THINK YOUR WAY TO SPIRITUAL HEALTH.
But mental and spiritual well-being can not be achieved by thinking harder or smarter. To think that we can solve all our problems merely by thinking of the right answers is just ridiculous. Or is it? Somehow this seems implicit in how we usually live!
WE OVER-EMPHASISE THE VALUE OF THINKING.
Conceptual and abstract thinking is usually thought of as a pre-eminent human ability. We routinely base our entire lives and even stake humanity’s future on the power of thought. We think we will be able to think ourselves out of our predicament. But in the greater scheme of things, it’s only of limited use. Perhaps over-thinking is our greatest weakness and the downfall of this experiment we call humanity?
THINKING DRAWS OUR FOCUS TO THE EXTERNAL.
Thinking merely helps us achieve a better understanding of the external, physical component of our world. Yet, we are far more than physical beings. Only a fraction of our perceived world is physical. Our perceptions are predominantly non-physical. Our relationships with others are predominantly non-physical. Our emotions and even our thoughts are conveyed by chemical molecules, but they are perceived as abstract, inner experiences.
INNER CONNECTION IS A KEY TO TRUE WELL-BEING.
We are complex thinking, feeling and socially interacting beings. Our inner world has much more impact on us than our outer world. This is why building an inner connection to our mental and spiritual worlds is so critical to lasting satisfaction in life.