Materialism is a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things. It is also the doctrine that comfort, pleasure, and wealth are the only or highest goals or values. Materialism is a by-product of the levels of consciousness within the ego’s domain. Materialism is also the degree to which people buy items to attempt to elevate their status to their peer groups and the outside world and stems from the egoistic consciousness of desire.
There is a desire for amassing physical things in order to feel satisfied, content, and/or happy. Greed and attachment drift into the forefront of one’s mind when he or she is in the consciousness state of desire. To understand how this process operates, one has to look at the ego. The ego is always unsatisfied and ambitious. New hopes and ambitions arise once the old ones are fulfilled.
Suppose a person desires to buy a house. He or she would remain preoccupied with that thought because there is an attraction in it. Once a house is bought, the attraction fades. If a person does not have children, he or she would yearn for them; once he or she has children, they appear burdensome.
A similar principle applies to other things, such as household items, clothes, etc and to attachment towards people. Therefore greed and attachment are attractive only until they are fulfilled. It is the idea that these elaborate purchases make a person happier than they would otherwise be. This kind of lifestyle is reflected in the modern culture of borrowing money, with tremendous amounts of money being owed to banks and credit card companies so that people can quench their thirst for immediate gratification and have quality and often unnecessary items straight away.
The Connection Between Materialism & Low Self-Esteem
New research has been showing what has been long understood by the common spiritual knowledge, in that becoming more materialistic drives self-esteem to decline. Also, low self-esteem is seen as raising the level of materialism an individual experiences. The research has also found that as self esteem increases, materialism decreases. One reason provided for the fact that low self-esteem correlates with higher levels of materialism is that amassing material possessions act as a coping strategy for feelings of low self-worth.
Statistically people have more things than they did 50 years ago, but they are actually less happy in several key areas. There is also the considerable cost of what materialism does to the environment. People believe that buying more and more things will make them happy, when in fact research has shown time and time again that this is not the case.
An interesting fact to underscore is that while buying material possessions correlates with lower self-esteem, the buying of experiences leads to greater happiness. The study that has discovered this reality demonstrated that experiential purchases, such as a meal out or theater tickets, result in increased well-being because they satisfy higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality; a feeling of being alive. A reason promoted as to why this is the case is that purchased experiences provide memory capital and we tend to not get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object.
The realization that comes about after understanding the connect between materialism and low self-esteem is that one does not have to pursue fortune any longer, as this will not raise the level of self-worth and happiness experienced for the long term. If an increasingly-growing amount of individuals experience this realization, it can have profound global economic implications, which may create resistance by those wishing to continue the old defunct manner of running key aspects of society.