You Weren’t Born Just to Buy Stuff

What message are we being given here?

What message are we being given here?

You are constantly and relentlessly being told by society that you must buy stuff. Lots of stuff.

You are a consumer, so you must consume. If you do not, you are not contributing to society. Your status is judged by the quality and quantity of your things; the Armani suit, the Rolex watch and the Mercedes car.

While there is nothing inherently wrong in having things - even nice things - you set yourself up for a life of endless suffering by making “buying stuff” the center point of your life.  You will never have enough. There will always be a bigger house to be bought and a smarter smartphone to be had. You will spend more and more of your limited time working to pay off your debts, and less time on the human relationships which are the most important parts of life.

Don Draper as God

Thousands of times a day, you are bombarded by deceptive, hypnotic messages that are designed to make you feel bad. You are told that the path to happiness is to purchase Product X. Armies of MBAs study in detail how to manipulate you. Over and over, everyday -- even if you try to ignore it -- you are assaulted consciously and subconsciously with advertisements to consume.

They sell you junk food and then they sell you weight-loss plans. Then you’ll have to ask your doctor about the medication that will make you thin and happy. By the way, you will have to use this medication forever, or at least until your insurance runs out.

The Fatally Flawed Model

You can not find real happiness outside of yourself. Buying stuff might make you feel good for a short while, but you will always need more. The newest iPhone or the bigger car. You will never be satisfied.

The entire world economy is based upon consumption. Stuff is not built to last and is designed to become quickly obsolete. If you don’t play along with the game, then you are told that the whole system will collapse. They don’t talk about the inherent contradiction between a perpetually growing consumption-based economy and a finite planet.

We are sold on the idea that the sole purpose in this life is to be consumers. This is a fatally flawed model. The reason you were born is because of your soul, not because of stuff.

Why Do You Feel Crappy?

Millions of people spend their days working in jobs they hate so that they can buy more stuff, like they have been told to do since they were young children.

This is not to blame these people. They are doing what they have been taught.

In Buddhism, there is the Hungry Ghost. He always wants more and more, but his hunger is never satisfied. He lives in a hell of his own making. He is looking for his salvation outwardly, where it does not exist.

Back when I was in school, I some of the most messed up people I met were the rich kids. Their parents gave them stuff instead of love. Many of them ran around like spoiled children, then hid their lack of love in drugs, alcohol and shallow, manipulative relationships. These people “had it all,” yet were miserable.

Life is About Your Soul

To find true happiness and success, you have to look inward. You were born because of your soul. Until you connect with your soul, you will forever look outside of yourself for meaning. You will not find it there. Not in stuff, not in drugs (whether sold in a pharmacy or from the dude down the street), not in ideology.

There are many ways to connect inwardly. Find what works for you. For some people, an organized religion gives the proper structure they need. Others thrive on different paths.

You don’t need a guru from India, but if that works for you, then that is great. The tree in your local park can also be your teacher.

Start Seeing The Manipulation

Your homework is to start seeing how you are being manipulated by advertising and the culture of consumption. Think about the desires you have for material goods. How do they motivate you? How much time do you spend thinking about making a purchase? Do your spending habits cause you problems in your relationships?

There is nothing wrong with having stuff. We all need shoes and a place to live. The problem is living your life just so that you can buy more stuff.

There is So Much More to Life

When you get to that last moment in your life, will you be thinking about buying a new iPhone? Or will you be thinking about the relationships you had with people? 

My bet is that you will be thinking about the people that you love. Will you regret having not shared your love? Or will you have peace in your heart because it is bursting with love?

Don’t beat yourself up if you find that you are being driven by this materialism. It is not your fault. This is what you have been told to do, programmed to do - hypnotically - for your entire life. I am here to grab you by the shoulder and shake you, to help you see more. Lifelong conditioning takes time to move past. But it can be done. 

Awareness is the First Step

Like the character Neo in “The Matrix,” you have to decide whether to take the red pill or the blue pill. You can continue to live the life as you have been living, or you can take the leap of faith and find out why you are really alive. Neo found his true path and and lived his life to the fullest. And he positively influenced many along the way. You can do it, too.

Are you ready to go down the rabbit hole?

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Paul Crouse

Paul Crouse is a spiritual teacher and advisor, life coach, writer, speaker and photographer based in Kyoto, Japan. He helps people who consciously want to change their lives for the better. He helps people build a strong inner foundation, while helping them to clarify and achieve their goals. He works with people worldwide via video calling or face-to-face in Kyoto. He also leads workshops and seminars, both online and in person, for organizations and companies.