Overcoming materialism

By  Hillary Windsor, Youth Speak News
  • July 13, 2009
These days, it is not uncommon to find people complaining and brooding over a malfunctioning iPod or a misplaced flash drive. With our attachment to material things, either one of these minor problems could throw our entire day askew.

So, why is it that our possessions and technologies affect our happiness so much? When did we become so dependent on money and material? And when did we begin to get the notion that these things would bring us joy and satisfaction?

In the media, we often hear of celebrities and their miseries. Most people find it puzzling why these people who seem to “have it all,” seem so unhappy in the public eye. But people need to realize that money does not equal happiness.

Now, I know I may be a bit presumptuous in saying that celebrities are not truly happy — because they could very well be — but I am using them as an example to show, first of all, the tendency some have of assuming rich people should be happy, when happiness cannot be gained through wealth.

In our society, we value money, fame, possessions and job titles. But what we so often fail to regard is the real bountifulness of Earth — the rising and falling ocean tides, the budding trees after a long winter, the snow-capped mountains and the constant cycle of life in nature that God has bestowed so flawlessly all around us.

What I find truly remarkable is the level of happiness people in less-developed and poorer nations experience. For this reason, I have always wanted to visit Africa, to learn from those who, though they have no iPods, HBO specials or in-ground swimming pools, carry some of the most genuine and full-of-life smiles in the world.

Recently I found myself plopped on the couch watching a Michael J. Fox special titled The Incurable Optimist. I was very intrigued by one of the main focuses in the segment: the nation of Bhutan. Fox visited this country after hearing it was home of “the happiest people on Earth,” and, with further inspection, he could personally verify this statement to be true. Fox found out that the Bhutanese government measures Gross National Happiness. The people of Bhutan live lives of simplicity — which is what God wants for us. As Matthew 5:5 states, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the Earth.”

Happiness does exist, and if you haven’t found it, maybe you’ve been looking for it in the wrong places. God wants us to be happy. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t have blessed us with such a beautiful Earth, filled with wonderful people. Whether you are young or old, married or divorced, shy or outgoing, you deserve happiness, and believe me, it is waiting for you. Maybe we, as Westerners, need to take a lesson from the people of Africa and Bhutan and live more simply while appreciating every day we are given.

Smile, dance, laugh, love and thank God for everything in your life — even if you think you have it bad, it could be worse. Albert Einstein said it well, “True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.”

(Windsor, 19, is a journalism student at Carleton University in Ottawa.)

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