Materialism and Greed Essay
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Materialism: Can it make you Happy?
Can Greed and Materialism lead to true happiness? “Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works and greed will save the USA.” (Wall Street) “Cause we are living in a material world and I am a material girl” a theme in one of Madonna’s most famous songs.
Greed and materialism stand in apposition to any manifestation of true happiness. People are under a false perception that money will solve all of their problems and as a result bring them their utmost joy and happiness. Many psychologists, philosophers, and religious figures throughout the ages have refuted this assertion. People in American society take money very seriously because it can either make or break your life choices. In order to fit in…show more content…
We rely on money, if all the money in the world disappeared tomorrow the world, as we know it would collapse. Everything is connected to money in some way. Everything essentially has a price tag on it if your pocket is fat enough. This is what makes money extremely appealing. But money shouldn’t be the driving force that motivates people to be successful and wealthy. People should be driven by pride, integrity, and happiness.
Materialism also is the standards that other people see that we think we have to live by. As Webster’s Dictionary state, materialism is a theory that physical matter is only fundamental reality. Americans are very materialistic, because our society is so materialistic, people can be hurt, and ashamed of how they dress. Materialism in our society can also be costly. We are very concerned with different name brands such as Polo, Tommy, Ralph Lauren, Guess, Baby Phat, Gucci, Nike, Adidas and the list goes on. We see the different stars on television, in movies, commercials, and magazines or on stages. Whether they are actors, actress, singers, models we all look at the clothing they wear and think that this is what must be fashionable acceptable in our society.
While money can clearly feed the best parts of the human experience, obviously, this is not always the case. Just what is it about this stuff that we call "money"? In all appearances, we can't live with
Are we working towards happiness in life? If so, we have thousands of examples to see of people who have been "successful" in acquiring material wealth, but who have been miserably empty inside.
Do we feel that we'll reach a level of peace and contentedness by having more things? Again, we have tons of anecdotal evidence that tells us that the feeling of contentedness that comes from buying something fades rather quickly after the purchase is made, leaving us feeling just as empty as before.
Many people feel that by acquiring just the right material goods, they can make other people see them in a positive light. In other words, they buy their new car or clothes or electronic gadget in order to impress others. They're often setting themselves up for great disappointment when others don't react as they think they should.
"Material" as an adjective means tangible, touchable, real, physical. One dictionary's third definition of the word as an adjective says, "Of or concerned with the physical as distinct from the intellectual or spiritual." When we become focused on materialism, then, we're spending a great deal of time and energy on something that is completely apart from our intellectual and spiritual selves. We may rationalize and claim that if we obtain a certain material object then we'll be more at peace spiritually, but that simply cannot be the case.
Charles Dickens knew all about materialism, and he gave us the character of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol to illustrate the problems with materialism. As a youth, Scrooge was treated very poorly by his family, which led him to look to money as a form of security, something that he could trust. His love for money leads him to lose the woman he loves, and after that he leads a lonely, bitter existence as his life becomes simply a quest for more and more material wealth.
The Spirits show, him, though, just how many people are able to be happy at Christmas without the benefit of material wealth, and this helps to lead him to see just how flawed his thinking has been, and just how miserable he has become by focusing only upon the material and never cultivating friendships, relationships, or spiritual growth. Once his focus shifts from the material to the spiritual, Scrooge is able to become a happy man.
We also see the same thing in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Doctor Seuss. After he steals virtually all of the material reminders of Christmas from Whoville, the Grinch waits to hear their cries of despair as the Whos wake up in the morning. Instead of wailing, though, he hears them singing--even though they had had material wealth and many presents and a great feast, their focus was still on their spiritual side. The spirit of Christmas "came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!"
It's very obvious that while the Whos enjoy their material goods, they are not essential to their happiness. They are able to be happy without them.
I know that in my life, I've very often set my sights on some material product, thinking that I'd be much happier if I had it. Sometimes I spent money I couldn't really afford on something, and sometimes I just charged it, whether I had the money to pay for it or not. (I'm lucky, though, because I've never had expensive tastes. I shudder to think where I'd be if I did.) Never has a purchase made me a happier person, and sometimes after the newness has worn off I've even felt a great sense of regret that I've bought something that I didn't use nearly as much as I thought I did.
Nowadays I have a strategy for determining whether I truly need something, or if this something is simply appealing to my desire for material goods. First of all, I wait to buy things that aren't essential--impulse buys can build up very quickly. If I truly need it, I'll still need it in two weeks. If not, the urge to buy it usually will fade fairly quickly.
I also try to look at my interactions with other people as objectively as I can. Are we talking about things and gadgets, or are we talking about things that matter, like how to become better teachers or parents or friends? How do I feel if someone criticizes something that I have? I truly should feel nothing--the criticism's about the thing, not about me.
I've also been working for a while at getting rid of things that I've had for a long time, but simply don't use. Each time I get rid of something, it's a very good lesson to me about just how much crap I've acquired, and just how much time and money I've spent acquiring it when that time and money might have been used for something much more constructive.
We're all materialists to some extent, and there are many material goods that are helpful and even necessary to us. But is our materialism so strong that it keeps us from focusing on the truly important aspects of our lives? Are we neglecting important parts of ourselves simply because we're focused strongly on attaining material goods? That's a question that each individual can answer for only him or herself.