Why is the modern world so materialistic?

We live in a world where you cannot do a thing without having to pay for it. You go to the doctor, the insurance must cover it.

In order to get insurance, you must pay and fulfill numerous conditions to be eligible to get it. If you want to live in a nice apartment, you need money.

If you want to have food on the table, guess what? What a surprising answer – you need money again!

Why does the world revolve around money?

It is truly difficult to answer this question because some of us would like the world to be all about love and kindness. However, we have to be realistic about this here – chaos would probably rule the world soon.

As mentioned before, everything we want to achieve or do in life requires a certain amount of money that we need to pay. Money was created to make trade easier and to simplify the lives of millions of people on a daily basis.

The economy is at the center of it all and we must notice that the countries that are the richest, have the biggest power. So, actually, we get the equation where money equals power.

We can question it, agree or disagree, but the people who have money make the decisions. Depending on your personal ambitions, you can strive to earn more or less, but its importance stays.

The value of money

The way we will earn the money starts raising other questions like “how many hours are you willing to invest to get the money you need”.

Truly rich people who have lots of money will probably mention the concept of time. They will simply convert the amount of money they need and the number of hours that they have to invest and see is it worth that much trouble.

Most people in the race for money won’t even think about the importance of time, because they will simply be too consumed with trying to stay above water and not drown because of financial difficulties.

However, that is the true currency we use. If you start thinking like this and understand what you could do to make a better balance, you will probably start finding better solutions.

If you ask me, if I would sacrifice money or time, I would always sacrifice money. However, that is not always possible and it is the reason why so many people are so consumed by chasing after it.

When you start looking at it like that you will convert the money into the minutes you spend with your children, your partner, or doing the things you like, instead of working.

So, actually, it revolves around the higher level of trade. We invest something from our life to get something we need or want.

However, it is not simply black and white. We cannot do anything else but pay our bills, so we must decide what we are willing to sacrifice to be able to afford to cover everything.

All the systems in the world were created with the intention to make things go smoother and quicker, so they are not there without a reason.

Which categories of people are there?

If you start watching the world carefully and try to be objective, you will notice that the people can be put in three categories:

  1. The ones who have money.
  2. The ones who don’t have money.
  3. The ones in the middle.

Who is in the best position? The answer to this question may heavily depend on the financial situation you are in and there is no universal answer.

It will depend on your goals and your starting position. While one person would be more than satisfied with a certain salary, the other one may be striving to get double.

The reason for this lays in the messages we get. We are constantly bombarded by some kinds of messages about wealth.

On one hand, we get the message that wealthy people are healthy, happy, and satisfied. This is partly the reason why we want to have money so badly.

We get the message that if we only get a little bit more money we would be happy. And what happens when you get it?

Well, you are still you, just with a little bit more money in your pocket. You will still strive to get more.

People who don’t have money will think more about it but are less likely to do something about it. That can be attributed to the messages received during childhood.

The ones in the middle seem to be in the best position. Perhaps they managed to find the balance.

Is money good?

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Well, this is also a question that can start rolling the wheels in your mind. Think about it.

Money is money, right? It’s just paper.

It cannot be good or bad. Who has the money?

People do. So, we must look for the root of the problem in human nature.

Depending on our intentions, beliefs, and plans, it can be used for good things or bad things – it is completely up to us.

Besides being essential for surviving, we can also view money as something good. We can use it to make a life for our families good.

We can use it to buy good food, a comfy bed, nice clothes, pay for our education. Better education leads to spending time with people who are oriented towards prosperity and spirituality.

Everything is linked and we simply cannot pinpoint where one thing starts and another one ends. The fact is that poor societies report higher rates of violence and self-harm.

On the other hand, wealth can positively influence society, but only if the gap between the poor and the wealthy people is not too big. There are studies conducted that say that poor people are more likely to commit street crimes when compared to wealthy people.

This may be attributed to the negative emotions that poverty can inflict such as rage and frustration. In this context, we could say that having money is good because it can lead to higher satisfaction in life.

What can be done with the money?

Most people are of course interested in providing good living conditions for themselves and for their families. On a bigger scale, it can be used for making good schools, roads, and supermarkets.

On an even bigger scale, it can be used for fighting poverty, providing medicines, care, and education opportunities for the people in need. People like Bill Gates are donating their money to create a better world and leave a legacy that will live long after they’re gone.

It is very important to understand that money can be used to create good things but it can also be a reason for violence and crimes for the people who want it but don’t know how to earn it.

What money does to us?

It is hard to imagine that a thing such as money can have such an enormous impact on us. However, it is evident that it can and it does.

When we don’t have money, we are restless and want to have it. When we get it, we want more.

When we get more, we are not content with what we have. According to Tim Kasser, materialists are less emphatic than people who are more oriented towards the spiritual values in life.

However, it is important to say that materialists are not necessarily bad people. They are more hopeful that the things they buy will help them feel better.

People tend to buy more when their insecurities start overflowing their state of mind. We’ve all been there.

When we feel sad, we will go to the store and buy some comfort food or something that will help us feel better. Every person has something that is their weak spot.

The magnificent Dr. Gabor Mate has talked a lot about his compulsive need to buy CDs because the classical music helped him feel better for a short while. However, it is important to say that most people won’t develop obvious compulsions, but more subtle versions of the shopping addiction.

The fact is that the whole idea about marketing is to play with our weak spots. All the advertisings we see on TV will show us something that we simply “must” have.

From the clothes to the incredible kitchen appliances that we must buy, they plant the seed in our minds which pushes us to work more, to buy more, and to simply feel like a hamster on the wheel chasing after the things we think we want.

We cannot blame it all on money, because it is just the means we use to get to the imaginary happiness that the things we buy will give us.

The importance of branding

Truly rich people like to have expensive things, property, a good car, a good watch, and expensive clothes not because they necessarily need them, but because expensive things are a statement of a sort. When you see a luxurious car and a well-dressed person coming out of it, you will create a mental impression of it without even thinking much about it.

It happens automatically because as we grow older millions of information crosses our minds. This is why we often hear about the importance of the first impression.

The behavior of the people changes when they realize they have a wealthy person in front of them. It can be annoying, but some people enjoy it.

Those are usually people who have narcissistic traits of personality because it feeds their ego and helps them feel better about themselves. This is why wealthy people create a brand.

They will use only certain products or cooperate with the best manufactures because all of that tells the world “I am wealthy and powerful. I own it, I am capable”.

Money is very magnetic

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Having money and earning it can become very attractive and even become an obsession. It is very hard to resist it and most people are weak when they come in contact with it.

According to psychologist Tian Dayton, it can become a behavioral addiction, which differs from the concept of substance abuse we are all familiar with. Every addiction has one thing in common – getting something that we want releases dopamine.

It makes us happy. However, the problem is that it never lasts.

The more you get, the less time the satisfaction lasts, which becomes a problem after a while. Overworking yourself may not sound like a problem, but it can become one if it goes out of control.

People who are workaholics know this very well. I know what I am talking about because I am one of them.

It is a never-ending cycle that is not likely to end. It starts being driven by money, but it evolves into something bigger than that.

It is the pleasure of being able to earn it because it is a sort of confirmation of capability and worth.

The concept “money is evil”

Some people will say that money is evil. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “The love of money is the root of all evil”.

However, most people miss one important thing in this quote: the love of money, not the money itself. Some people love to earn it, enjoy pursuing it but don’t feel bad if they live with less amount of money.

They don’t love the money, because the love for money turns to greed and greed leads to losing your morals to get what you want. It turns to a constant pursuit for the material goods that prevent the person from nurturing the spiritual side.

Achieving the balance is very difficult and that is when most people get in trouble. We tend to get lost in the pursuit and simply lose sight of the most important things in life.

What is the antidote?

Being surrounded with money may lead to us being used to having it and simply not recognizing how blessed we are. This is why the antidote for materialism may be generosity.

When we recognize that we can give a certain portion of our wealth to the people who don’t have it while expecting nothing in return can be a good starting point. It leads to a good habit of being grateful for what we have.

If you’ve never thought about it, you can start small and then perhaps do a gratitude journal. By writing down every day something you are grateful for, you will notice that your overall life satisfaction increases.

You can start by being grateful for having a home, a warm bed to sleep at night, the fact that you have clean water, food on the table, a job, a family. Some people don’t have anything of the sort and are truly struggling through life.

Do small acts of kindness because it will help you see the importance of each person in this world. You don’t have to save the world, you can start by helping an old lady cross the street.

That would be an excellent starting point. Continue with helping your young neighbor learn to play basketball or hold the door for the person coming after you.

One smile at a time won’t change the world in general, but it will help change your world and bring the breeze of fresh, loving energy into your life.  It is a pretty great start to step away from materialism if you ask me!

Final thoughts

It is true that the world has become too materialistic, but what is the alternative? It seems that we simply don’t have a choice.

It is what it is. However, there is a way how you can get the best of both worlds – work on achieving financial satisfaction while nurturing your spiritual side.

Set aside at least half an hour a day to meditate and clear your mind from all the messages that the world is sending constantly. Hopefully, one day the world will be free from hunger and suffering and the gap between the wealthy and the poor won’t be so evident, so all of us will be more open to creating a world of love.

This may be an impossible mission, but we can dream. We can do more on a personal scale to at least increase our personal satisfaction by focusing more on the relationships we build with other people and share positive vibrations!

Picture of Azra Jovicic

Azra Jovicic

I am Azra Jovicic and I love writing about psychology and wellness. I am just trying to make the sense of the world and share with others the things I’ve found out.

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