How The Need For More Things Can Leave Us Emptier

abandonedcar

When I was becoming a teenager, I was enthralled with video games. All my friends had Playstation or Nintendo consoles, or computer software, or some combination of the various digital entertainment options. I grew so enamored with the idea of owning my own video games that I daydreamed about them. When finally my brother and I received Nintendo Gameboys, I thought it was too good to be true. The hope for my very own video gaming system came true. But then something changed.

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After a while, the Gameboy wasn’t that exciting. My family bought a used Nintendo 64 the next Christmas, and we loved it. But the same thing eventually happened: our love grew cold. The video games weren’t appealing anymore. All my friends had newer consoles and different games. Once again, I was left dissatisfied and wanting more.

The Need For More

Often in Western culture, we glorify the pursuit of material goods. There are TV shows that praise contenders for paying the least amount of money for the most stuff. Huge portions of bookstores are devoted to the acquisition of more property, more belongings, and more money. Is this inherently wrong? I don’t think so, but it’s a dangerous path to walk down.

When we try to fill an inner longing of more with material possessions, we end up more empty than before. It’s like drinking salt water: the more you drink, the thirstier you become. We need to realize that things are useful and good, but not worth all our energy and effort.

From a comfortable American Dream sort of life, we can easily say we’re simply doing what everyone else in the country is doing. But if we’re to look honestly at how materialism impacts our lives, we should be wary of how we’re seeking to fulfill the urge for more.

Who We Are Is More Than Our Stuff

It can be easy to land on one extreme of the spectrum: materialism or minimalism. Either you go for it all and try to gain as many possessions possible, or you forsake materialism and live with as few things as possible, embracing a minimalist lifestyle. Some of the concepts of minimalism sound good, but I wonder if even that sort of lifestyle can overtake our identities as well.

Identity shouldn’t be about how many things we have. Nor should identity be about how many things we don’t have.

Maybe the sense that we need more correlates to the human need for substantial relationships with the people around us. Perhaps it’s because we like developing our identity around what we own. Or maybe it’s just that as growing people, we want to experience more in life. We’re made for adventure and creativity and so much more.

Meaning is worth pursuing.

Chasing more things won’t fulfill the need for that meaning. Let’s orient ourselves around seeking meaning rather than material goods.

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Do you place your identity in your possessions or something else? How have you learned to find meaning in things other than what you do or don’t have?

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Read more about finding meaning outside of things, but through change, conflict, and relationships – and what those have to do with my upcoming book.

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