What do you believe about money and materialism?
I think much of our society has it wrong about money and materialism, including the positions taken by both the left- and right-wing agendas.
Before you judge any of my contrarian comments, please read the entire article. I will provide a roadmap for you to consider.
First, money is an inanimate object. It is neither good nor evil. Money is neutral. We need it to survive and thrive in our developed society.
The reality is that individuals are either honorable or evil—not money.
Some erroneously link the accumulation of money or wealth to materialism but I contend you do not have to have money or things to be materialistic. Many who are poor are also materialistic.
The materialism mindset is independent of your monetary status.
On a recent TV show, the host was trying to link wealth to unhappiness and suggested that if we reduced our wealth, we all would be happier. I almost jumped through the screen, this host was so off-base. If his comments are taken literally, then Vancouver's Downtown Eastside—the poorest area in Canada—should contain the happiest people in the country. Of course that is not true.
So, Ken, if you are suggesting that money is not evil and materialism is independent of wealth, what does that really mean for me?
- It is materialism, not money, that is detrimental to our society.
- Wealthy people are not, by definition, materialistic.
- Materialism, in its most basic premise, means that a human being is trying to fill his or her spiritual needs with external items. This is the person who believes that if he could only get that latest iPOD, he would be happy—but when that's not enough, he needs a new cell phone, car, partner, and so on.
The pressure to become materialistic is all around us, but we can choose not to participate. (I need this message as a reminder, just as many of you do.)
If you are hooked on materialism, you will never be satisfied. It will never end. This pertains to teenagers who have become consumer junkies and adults craving the latest gadget. They are knowingly or unknowingly in the mindset that external items (materialism) will fulfill their deepest spiritual needs.
Here is where many people who are not wealthy become confused.
- How can you have a lot of wealth and not be materialistic?
- Because wealthy individuals who are grounded don't get their fulfillment or happiness from stuff. Money is a reward for the fulfillment of their ambition and willingness to serve their purpose and causes.
Warren Buffet recently gave billions to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Warren's billions did not make him materialistic. The opposite was true. Because of his money and wealth, he could do more for others. That hardly supports the ideology that money is evil.
In addition, we need to refute the position that the only path to soulful satisfaction is to have nothing and live communally. If that is what a person wants to do, great—but suggesting that approach is the only way to live and be happy is erroneous.
Admittedly, although we all can cite examples of the negative impact of money + materialism=Paris Hilton, Enron Executives, and WorldCom—those examples have nothing to do with money itself, nor should they drive individuals to embrace a mindset that suggests money is corrupt.
Finally, another mistaken belief is that success or being wealthy can be achieved only by sacrificing your relationships, family, or health. Sorry, not true. Though there are examples to the contrary, in my experience the most successful individuals—who are living on purpose—are leading balanced and fulfilling lives. In reality, it is the person working 2 to 3 jobs—barely making ends meet, or the small business owner working 24/7, who is out of balance—literally bankrupting heart and soul to stay alive, with little daily enjoyment.
Recently, I had someone challenge CRG's goal to grow to a billion-dollar business. He said that was arrogant and materialistic. The opposite is actually true. What this person did not understand is that for CRG and many other enterprises that are on purpose, having a billion dollars is not about having a billion dollars.
The billion is simply a measure that we are making a significant impact in the world, transforming millions of lives through CRG resources. If we stayed small, it means we would have done little to Enrich People's Lives.
You can read the Action Steps below to get a summary of a recommended mindset surrounding money and materialism.
- The objective is to become an individual who is grounded and centered in who you are, open to accepting and receiving money, yet mature enough to handle it without becoming materialistic.
To assist you on your journey to establishing a nonmaterialistic approach to having an abundance of money, I recommend the following CRG resources. These tools will allow you to be clear about what you stand for—in several areas of your life, while building your confidence and your ability to say Yes to Money and No to Materialism.