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Materialism Versus Being Happy

Updated on October 18, 2014

What is happening to our culture.

My wife and I live in Florida where we have been happily married for over three years at the time that I wrote this hub. We have family and friends that live in the mountains of North Carolina so we travel between here in Central Florida and the mountains for our vacations. One of the things that my wife and I love to do is travel the back roads of the different states that we travel through and when we come up to an old cemetery we love to get out and read the headstones on the graves. We have visited small little cemeteries that sit behind churches to large cemeteries like the ones in Savannah Georgia. Old head stones and markers have some very interesting history written on them, and some of them have some very tragic stories telling how rough life was back in the 1700 through early 1900’s. This really gets me thinking of how life was back then to how it is now. Most people back in those days especially in the south barely had enough to put food on the table or get proper medical treatment for their families. When reading the tombstones, one will find that many people lost several children in their home’s do to common ailments that we deal with today by running to the drug store and getting some sort of over the counter medicine to help us feel better. But the question that still ponders in my mind is, were people happier back in those days then they are now? What people had back then was what they needed to get by on and not much more than that. Today we have so many things and many of us have things that we really don’t need.

As I get older (I am starting the race to my sixties in life) my heart and head are having this battle over materialism. My youthful side still wants nice things like a bigger and faster boat, a new car, more property, and etc. But all the while my more adult side is telling me to forget the wants and concentrate on living a more simple life without going deeper and deeper into debt. My mind is telling me to you still have ten to fifteen more years of hard work ahead of you, so you can afford to get those nicer and fancier things. At the same time my heart is telling me to slow down and enjoy life and live with what you have already. I think back when I was a teenager, we did not have a big fast boat, we had a 14 foot aluminum fishing boat, an old truck, and no color television only a black and white with three stations. Today many people have to have a large 60 inch flat screen televisions with over 300 stations, dozens of sports stations, movies at our finger tips and etc. All this fancy stuff comes with a price and usually debt which we have to work longer and harder to pay off.

It is a shame that more and more of us are at work more than we are at home. My wife and I both have good jobs, we make a good living but we see each other for about 3 hours a night and maybe on every other Saturday and then usually on Sunday. We are at work from six in the morning to six at night and every other Saturday, I see my co-workers more than I see my wife. Is this the good life?

I remember when I was a pre-teen and teenager, my mother would take me to school and pick me up from school, and when I was sick my mother was at home to take care of me. My father was at work from 8 am to 4:30 pm five days a week. This was common for the average household, the wife was home taking care of the house and family while the husband was at work making the income for the home. What ever happened to those days? I personally do miss those days.

THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE DON'T HAVE THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, THEY JUST MAKE THE BEST OF EVERYTHING

Why are we not happy?

I was brought up in a Christian home, with two Christian parents. We went to church on a regular basis, then as I got older I got more involved with church. I served on church boards, I taught men’s bible studies, I personally led men’s small group studies in churches. All of this still did not matter, I still kept on living the life of a “me myself and I concept”. Out of the blue my best friend and his wife up and moved to Guatemala a third world country in Central America. After they lived there a few years I decided to take a trip to visit them and see what exactly they were doing in a country that was so poor. He and his wife were both six figure income wage earners and out of the blue they decided to give up this six figure income lifestyle and all the nice things that they had to move to a war torn country where the majority of the people liv in extreme poverty. Now when I say poor, the type of poor that these people live in is nothing like the poor here in the U.S. That is another hub-page later on.

I got on the plane by myself with not knowing what to expect when I get there, I was scared to death. While on the plane I sat between two men that were both leaders of a small missions group of young people going to help the poverty in this country that I knew nothing about. While I was talking with them they said that about ninety percent of the people on this plane were going to do some sort of relief work in Guatemala. I could hardly believe that all these people gave up their vacation time to go and help poor people, why? This was the first of many eye openers on this trip.

Here I was in my early forties and all I cared about was me and my toys. I did not give to hoots for people oversea, the poor malnourished children in other countries, or the people dying every day from the common cold. No, I cared more about my job, my home, my vacation plans and other meaningless things.

I saw so many things in one week in Guatemala that turned my thinking totally around. I could write a book about the experiences that I saw of how these people live. Let’s put it in these terms, the way that the majority of the people in Guatemala live today is like the way of life probably was back in the mid 1800’s here in U.S. It was like taking a time machine back to the past. It was totally unbelievable.

Going on a trip like this, one can see how people with nothing can be truly happy. Poverty, living in mud shacks, terrible health care, and no education is sad to see, but when you see these people and talk to them there is something about in them that one cannot explain, they are for the most part very happy people even when they live in this poverty. One cannot explain it in words. One has to experience it first hand to really get a true understanding of what I am trying to say. My question is, why are we not happy? We have everything we need, we have more than the majority of the people in the world, but we still want more because we are not happy. Why is that?

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

What does scripture say about materialism

Here in the U.S. we live in a materialistic society. What is materialism? Merriam-Webster says that materialism is a way of thinking that gives too much importance to material possessions rather than to spiritual or intellectual things”. What does the bible say about materialism Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then in 1 John 2:16 it says “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.” We are not supposed to be materialistic according to Jesus, so why are. I battle this every day, I want a newer boat, a new car, X amount of money in the bank for a rainy day, and so on. But this is not how we are suppose too think and live according to scripture.

Are we really happy, that is the question.

Are we happy, is society that we live in happy or are we just running at top speed burning the candle at both ends to make ends meet financially? I am just as guilty as the next, but with me I stop and think about what I have right now and ask myself this question “do I really need it or is it a want?” As I am laying in my king size bed with nice sheets and a new comforter on the bed, my mind goes back to Guatemala and how the people there live with one or two or three plus families in a one room house with dirt floors, maybe they have a light bulb for light at night. The people may be sleeping on a homemade bed if they are lucky or they just all cuddle together sleeping on a dirt floor. I ask myself, am I happier than they are, the answer should be yes, but I am not or I would not have to be on blood pressure medicine and antidepressants.

Getting deeper into debt.

Where have we gone wrong, why are we not happy. What makes us want more and more and continue to get deeper in and deeper in debt. Why are more and more people committing suicide, taking antidepressants, doing drugs, becoming alcoholics, and so on? Why do our jobs want more out of us with less resources, when is enough enough?

The bible says that we should “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4”

The bible also says “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.2 Timothy 3:1-17

I do not have an easy answer for this question, but we have become a nation of want over need. We tend to want everything we see, instead of being happy with what we only need. We have changed our priorities in life and have put our wants and desires ahead of our families and our own life. By doing this we are spinning out of control and causing more and more debt to pile up on us personally and as a nation.

I hope that this hub made sense to the reader, the stuff I wrote in this hub is some of the things that rattle around in my brain. Thank You...


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    • BDMalusa profile image

      Brian Malusa 3 years ago from New York

      Life is certainly easier, but I believe it also lacks meaning now a days. It is this lack of meaning that makes us so sad, depressed, and unfulfilled. Driving us to wanting more and more to distract us from our sorrow.