“The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves but in our attitude towards them.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
There seems to be an attitude in our societies that things are of the highest importance in life. And although it is not a recent trend, it has grown more prominent over the last several decades due to the overwhelming amount of marketing and advertising and the ease of which it intrudes into our lives. Most of us cannot manage to make it for more than an hour without being bombarded with ads online, in our email, on radio and TV, on billboards, signs, and posters, or any number of sources that try to convince us that the more things we possess, the better our lives will be. It is so effective that we actually advertise for them without even realizing it through the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the shows we watch, the words we speak, and the things we do. <!–more–>
However, the things that we acquire bring nothing to our lives; it is really only through the importance that we give them–the meaning that we assign them–that they gain any significance at all. And this importance is a result of the ways in which we see those things, and the attitudes we establish towards them. Personally, I try to follow one simple rule when it comes to the things that I possess: If I cannot be without it of my own free will, then it possesses me, and I need to work on becoming free from it. For as long as anything holds power over me–whether that is something as simple as my favorite addiction or my new computer, or as complex as other people using me for their own benefit or vice versa–my spirit is not free. It is important to me that I am able to let go of those things that have the ability to affect my state of mind, or my peace and happiness in life.
Virtually nothing in our lives has meaning to it that we have not assigned–what some see as horrible, others might see as an opportunity or challenge. Therefore, when searching for the significance of the things in our lives, it is imperative that we ask ourselves, “What does this mean to me?” In addition, it is also important that we keep in mind that things in our lives are meant to be functional, not integral–we can enjoy them without finding an unnecessary need in them. Otherwise, we run the risk of overlooking those other immaterial parts of ourselves that should never be neglected–our intellect, our abilities, our relationships, and our spirits.
Reassess the way you look and feel towards the things you surround yourself with.
Questions to consider:
What meanings do you give to things in your life? Are you constantly aware of the fact that you are assigning meaning?
What things in your life might have more meaning than they truly deserve? How did they achieve that meaning?
Why do we tend to place so much meaning on things? What other options do we have?
For further thought:
No doubt we would all agree with the sentiment: “There’s more to life than things.” Yet much of our lives seem to be spent in the acquisition, maintenance, and disposal of material goods. Certainly we cannot enjoy the basics of food, shelter, and clothing without a concern for things. The truly important things of life, however, are those which cannot be encountered by the physical senses, purchased with money, or placed on a shelf. When we take a look at what we value most in life, we generally find family, friends, health, peace, contentment, laughter, helping others, and communion with God foremost on our list of priorities. ~ Unattributed