Isaac Marano

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Material Possessions - The Path To Happiness?

I would love to hear the opinion of others when it comes to happiness. Would you say that accumulating more and more material possessions over the course of our lives is the right path? Or are experiences really the things that matter? Here are my thoughts on the topic -

Looking forward to seeing how others see happiness :-)

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    Jul 29 2012: Do look at the wonderful TED talks we have about what factors are most likely to make us happy. Those who have done research in this area identify our satisfaction with human relationships as the single most important factor. Of course few people if any will seriously claim or think that acculmulation of possessions is key. You have set up as your target what at least used to be called a "straw man," a position very easy to refute.

    Why don't you start with Martin Seligman's talk and go on from there?

    Look at the talks under the tag "happiness."
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      Jul 30 2012: Hey Fritzie, thanks for the recommendations! I'll be sure to check out the talks. I do agree that human relationships would have to be the most important factor, like you stated. Thanks for stopping by and leaving some feedback.
  • Jul 30 2012: I certainly don't think that material possessions are the source of happiness, but I think they certainly aren't a cause of unhappiness. The cliched response of man on his death bed saying "I wish I spent more time with my family instead of working so hard," is not condemning material possessions but rather obsession with material things. Money and material possessions are neutral. I think material possessions could be a very powerful tool in achieving happiness, but not if accumulating wealth hurts relationships or takes precedence over personal goals. Take for example, if a family owns a beach house and takes vacation every year, the family could form great memories and be happy. The beach house didn't make the family happy, but the experiences shared did. The material possession was helpful in achieving happiness. However, if the dad worked all the time to buy the beach house and consequently had a poor relationship with his family, the family vacation is a bad experience, and no one is happy. The pursuit of money robbed the man of his happiness because he lost what he considered important in order to get more wealth. I think that money is fine. It is the love of money which is bad.
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      Jul 30 2012: Thanks so much Noah for taking the time to leave your perspective. I'm with you on this one. It's not the physical object itself that is the problem, but the emotional connection we make to it. Your analogy of the beach house sums it up perfectly. Money can things such as holidays, which in turn, provides quality experiences.
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    Jul 29 2012: The more we have, the more we want. Material possessions will not bring happiness because there is always something new with the vain promise of fufilment.
    Happiness is a decision. Many have tied happiness to some future event or achievement, or to the possession of certain things; but the world is full of rich but miserable people; or people who are praised for some achievement but are sad and lonely ones.

    Happiness comes from appreciating the peculiarity of your life, and accepting that things would not always go as you want it to, and that you do have a choice to make the best of every situation.
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      Jul 30 2012: Feyisayo, thank you for taking to time to share your thoughts. I think you're quite right with your perception of happiness. To tie happiness to temporary objects that can't be taken with you from this life to the next, doesn't make much sense. Plus I think it also applies to the whole, "I'll be happy when...". We can't place happiness far away in the future. A future in which we aren't guaranteed to see.
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    Jul 29 2012: I always liked John Lennon's take on this: "Possession is not nine-tenths of the law, it's nine-tenths of the problem".
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      Jul 30 2012: Thanks for sharing Scott! True words from a very creative man! :-)
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    Jul 29 2012: Of course not but...........socio economic status is the very best predictor we have of outcome for a human life. (I learned that in an MA in psychology).
    I have learned that for the most part you have to have reduced your worries to a fairly low level to find happiness. It is as though you have to create a nest for happiness to live in and the walls of it are a roof over your head, enough to eat and a modicum of comfort), We all need to create our nest.
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      Jul 30 2012: Hi Debra, I think you are spot on there. Reducing the amount of negative influences in our lives can definitely make room for happiness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :-)
  • Aug 8 2012: For me, some material possessions are needed for "happiness." But much more important is my sense of enough.
  • Aug 3 2012: "Home is where the heart is." "Love is a house..." The more material possessions one accumulates, the more time one has to spend tending to them instead of living life. I think the path to happiness is two-fold. 1) Figure out what you're like/love to do. It doesn't matter if your good at it as long as you love it. It should be something that is yours alone and doesn't involve another person. 2) Do it. I think some people think happiness can be measured but since there is no standard way to do that, people put a "happy value" on material possessions. A new car = happy. A mcmansion = estatic. Flawless diamonds = woo hoo, I've arrived. But when all that stuff is taken away and that person is naked as the day he/she was born, what did they actually DO? Where did they travel? What books did they read? What did they learn? Who did they befriend? Did they love somebody? Did somebody love them? The stuff that can't be taken away is the stuff that matters.
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    Jul 30 2012: Seems like an evolutionary issue in part. Buying stuff makes us feel good for a while. Not to mention the enjoyment from various tools and toys.

    Having lots of resources and nice stuff makes us feel better than others on a primal level and also attracts the opposite sex. I guess we have a competitive instinct.

    But this is not the path to great happiness.

    I think the general studies show once your basic needs are met it doesn't make that much difference. Social connections and genetic factors or learnt outlooks etc seem to be more important for happiness.

    Being envious of others or not being appreciative of what you have is not great for happiness.

    I personally have all I need and much I want and its about balance. Saving for the future. Experiencing more by visiting somewhere new or going out with friends. Less about stuff. Wife and I have agreed not to buy anymore junk for the house.