“Just buy them, they’re on sale!”
“But you don’t need them!”
The angel and devil on my shoulders were arguing again. I was standing in the Mecca of Materialism, the shopping mall, eyeing some shiny new Guess brand shoes. No matter I had 12 other pairs at home, these ones were calling to me.
After a brief struggle, Stuff won the battle and I walked out of the store carrying some shoes I didn’t need with money that wasn’t in the budget.
Where was my will power? Chalk another victory up to Stuff. It seemed that in the war of Man vs. Stuff, I was getting owned, annihilated! Why did I have to keep buying things when I already had more than enough?
Somehow, along the road of life, I had convinced myself that stuff made me happy. I thought that things gave me fulfillment.
I was wrong.
If that were true, if stuff really did make me happy, then why did I rush back to the stores every weekend looking for new stuff? Didn’t the stuff I bought the weekend before make me happy? I guess not anymore.
For some reason, this equation of stuff = happiness just wasn’t working out. What was I really looking for? What would truly make me happy for the long term?
Living, Instead of Merely Consuming
It turns out that what I was really looking for was “self-actualization” as Maslow calls it in his hierarchy of needs. To be truly happy, I needed to create, to contribute, to make a difference.
This is how I win the war of Me vs. Stuff. Through creative outlets such as writing and web design, I express myself and find contentment. I am able to achieve a state of flow, where time flies by unwatched and I become absorbed in the work.
Stuff is important. We need Stuff to eat, wear, and shelter us. But we need more than stuff to make us happy. We need to create, contribute, and express ourselves.