Among most people there is a strong attachment to owning things. The United States has especially become a consumption-based society, one in which many have actually come to believe that what you own is who you are. This same attitude is steadily being exported to second and third world countries as well. Please don’t misunderstand me here. There is nothing wrong at all with people buying material goods (i.e., nonessential items) when they feel like doing so – I most certainly do. Problems are bound to develop however, when that feeling is based on an ill-founded premise that continuing to purchase such things will actually provide them with genuine happiness, security, or even improved social status.
During an average month in the United States, we are barraged with literally thousands of messages originating from a variety of sources, the majority of which are designed to get us to buy either a product or an idea. As a result of this media-driven culture, we have millions of people taking on significant amounts of debt just so they can ‘own’ and become attached to and/or burdened by more and more stuff.
I used to participate in a bit of that behavior myself, until one day when I heard Dr. Wayne Dyer talk about the disease called MORE. This serious affliction results from having a thought like, “I know I’ll be happier or feel more fulfilled if I just have a new home, or car, or stereo, etc.” The reality is that as long as we believe we need something outside of ourselves to bring us happiness, we will constantly have to buy more things, and that, my friend, is an endless trap.
What we usually get with minor purchases – at best – is a thrill that is invariably temporary in nature. With larger and more costly purchases (i.e., homes, cars), we can derive benefits over a longer period of time, but these benefits are often more than offset by the reduced personal freedom that results from increasing our financial commitments. That combined with the increased anxiety we experience about holding onto and protecting these possessions, makes the total price we pay even higher.
This does not mean you need to stop being a consumer of anything other than essential items, for it is actually important for you to keep money circulating in your life. Rather, what you need to do is come to the understanding that whatever you buy is meant to serve you in some way, and that at the most fundamental level you never really own anything in the first place – you just use it. This is because even if you hold the title to something, the fact that you will not live forever means that you never truly own it, since at the moment of your death it will be passed on to someone else anyway.
This is not to suggest that you shouldn’t appreciate or take care of the various goods that you purchase, for it is both sensible and practical that you do. What is important however, is to not get so focused on protecting and caring for your possessions that the stuff itself begins to control you. The fact is it takes considerable energy to cling to things, and equally as important: by being attached we serve to limit the flow of universal energy into our lives. In that regard, consider this insightful and very amusing quotation from Stuart Wilde in his book “Infinite Self”:
“The more you defend your stuff through the emotion of “mine,” the more lack you’ll have, and the more you cut yourself off from the Infinite Self within. Everything you have is in the care of the God Force. If you come home and the stereo is missing, you can say, “Ah, they’ve come for the stereo,” rather than getting uptight. It’s just gone back to the God Force. Somebody else has it now.”
While the previous passage has a humorous nature, it really is quite true in my view. Once an item of yours is taken from you, what else can you do but accept it? Getting all bothered about it does not in any way change what happened. This is not to suggest that thieves should not be held responsible for their choices. Rather, it means that those who were victimized need to first reframe the event (e.g., as a lesson learned), and then move into the present moment to identify the appropriate solution (e.g., file a police report, purchase a new stereo, or both).
If you are sincerely able to embrace this perspective, you will eventually reach the point where you no longer allow yourself to become rigidly attached to any material item. The end result will be a feeling of immense weight being removed from your shoulders, as the emotional and physical energy that you invest in hanging on to your stuff literally weighs you down. Most importantly, as you begin to develop the ability to be non-attached and let things flow from your life without resistance, you simultaneously crack open the door for new items to flow into your life.
(The preceding article is an adapted excerpt from Spirituality Simplified, Copyright 2002 & 2014, by Jeff Maziarek.)
About the Author
Jeff Maziarek is an inspirational speaker and author. His first book, Spirituality Simplified is an easy-to-understand and entertaining work that provides an ideal starting point for anyone with a sincere desire to pursue a path of personal and/or spiritual growth. His second book, Codi’s Journey, is a memoir about his beloved Border Collie who passed away in 2005.
Spirituality Simplified is available on Amazon.com in both print and eBook formats. Codi’s Journey also can be purchased on Amazon.com in both print and eBook formats and on BarnesandNoble.com in eBook format . To subscribe to Jeff’s free daily inspirational emails called “PONDER on THIS,” please visit his Pondercentral website.