materialism vs valuing material

In many ways, the material things we keep near us begin to become a part of our identity. Materials do matter. Having money is something we need, and it’s okay to want it. Dressing well has very real social results. The things we have and carry with us matter. The problem with materialism is when the physical things we have undercut or try to replace our well being.

Such as with the Instagram trend of artists showing what they have in their bags, or with the fashion we wear, how we adorn ourselves represents us in a very real way to those around us. While in some ways, a shirt may just be a shirt, it still says something. Are you the person who cares about trends? Are you confident enough to try out more risky styles? Even if one’s style is, “comfortable”, how far does that stretch? What colors are you incorporating? But it’s not only about fashion. For good or ill, for many people, our technology is also incorporated into our existence. It’s a part of how we survive the day to day, it’s a part of our routine, and our use of it because personalized to our needs and limits. Operating more or less dependently on a phone or laptop is a feature of how we exist. In a weird way, it could even be considered a personality trait, or at least be related to certain traits. Humans have been relying on technology since the beginning, and in that way, the technology we use is a fundamental part of our humanity.

While we like to think of ourselves in the way we think of souls, as entities separate from physical form, we exist in a physical world. At some level, we have to interact with what is around us to survive. From what we know about our health, exercising, having basic hygiene, being careful with what we eat, practicing mindfulness and so on: the better we take care of our physical bodies, our psychological health tends to follow. There are always exceptions, and mental illness for example, isn’t something that be wished away, but taking care of your body helps your whole self.

Yet, if we accept that we need to take care of our physical bodies to take care of our full self, we need to also look at the material things we surround ourselves with. Presenting yourself in a stylish way, thinking about what you wear with intention, is automatically making you invest in you. If you’ve put in the effort to prepare for yourself for the day, it provides incentive to care more about the day. If you know you go on social media too much and it is making your mindset more negative, try to cut it out. On one hand, small material things may seem silly to value. However, if bubble tea makes your day a little better, why deny yourself simply because it’s a silly thing? Granted, everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb, but we often place more limitations on ourselves than is necessary in the spirit that the material world doesn’t matter. What is important is that we realize where and why we are desiring and surrounding ourselves with what we are. Be intentional about your life because it’s yours.


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