Don’t focus on materialism

Americans value “stuff.” In other words, we are materialistic.

Our possessions mean a lot to us. Are they as important as we make them seem?

We need to get our priorities straight. Waiting in line for the newest iPhone when you have a perfectly working one that you’ve only had for six months is ridiculous.

Tim Kasser is a professor of psychology who has written many articles on materialism in relation to peoples’ well-being.

From several studies, he has come to the conclusion that “The more materialistic values are at the center of our lives, the more our quality of life is diminished.”

Kasser’s research has shown that people who spend a lot of money or are in debt are usually suffering emotionally. It may be because of the excess stuff they have.

You may have heard of “minimalists.” They are people who live simple lifestyles: their homes are very clean and uncluttered, and they have a small amount of belongings.

You don’t have to give up everything you own, but maybe you could tone it down a little. We should value quality over quantity and instead of buying many things, keep something until it is broken.

If it functions, you don’t need another one. So don’t throw out your old phone to pay hundreds for a new one that works the same.

Minimalists have chosen a simpler lifestyle for their own well-being. They do it so they have more room in their lives to focus on important things like achieving goals and having healthy relationships.

Instead of picking one extreme, everyone should pick up at least a few thrifty habits. You’ve probably heard “reduce, reuse, recycle” before. Kasser’s research compares competence with materialism.

“Thrift might also satisfy competence needs through the development of skills that support reusing, repairing and other do-it-yourself behaviors instead of purchasing replacement items or paying for others’ services.” Kasser wrote.

Learn to sew so you can fix your clothes. Buy a reusable water bottle or refill the plastic one you’re using. Keep all your change in one place so you can turn it into bills later and buy things in bulk.

Kasser suggests adopting skills similar to those because they save money. Learning to budget your life and save money essentially equals happiness because of security.

You never want to have no money saved if there was ever an emergency situation. Instead the saved money could be put towards something nice like a vacation.

It’s just a matter of living in a way that is more beneficial for your own well-being than being in a corrosive environment due to many useless objects.

Everyone should take a moment to refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. These are the five basic needs that every human should have in their lives.

This is modeled as a pyramid, labeled from bottom to top: physiological needs, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization.

Most people have the first few checked off, but the farther up you go, you might have to think about how many of these things you actually have. “Esteem” can really get people, because having too much stress, anxiety or suffering from depression can hinder you.

Other things in that category include self-confidence, having goals and achievements, and respect for oneself and others.

Debt leads to stress and stress leads to a whole mess of things. Anxiety and depression are harmful to your mental and physical well-being and can contribute to a lack of motivation. Being frugal is more helpful in the long run.