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What me, materialistic? I'd never seen
myself that way. But there I was, pricing waterfront property instead of
enjoying the view, agonizing about depriving my kids instead of noticing the
pile of unused CD-ROMs they already owned, and sweating over fabric swatches
for a fantasy family room--instead of spending the time actually doing
something with my family. If I wasn't materialistic, I sure was giving a lot
of thought and meaning to material things. And I was beginning to find that my
expectations of objects to do something--as well as the time and energy
I was devoting to them--wasn't giving me what I wanted. [Page 3]
Hammerslough presents several startling
statements in the first chapter of this book. Did you know you hear around
3,000 marketing messages daily? She also discusses how dramatically our
choices of each product desired have increased in the last few decades.
Technology has increased our wants dramatically.
I seriously doubt that anyone has
considered that "buying" new things takes time. Taking care of those
things also takes time! According to the author's beliefs about this subject,
too many of us are spending time buying instead of doing things with people.
We are trying to solve psychological needs with things instead of
Chapters 2-10 are spent discussing
how material things are trying to solve our need for: peace with the past,
feeling good about ourselves, understanding others, and belonging, love, doing
the right things, being a better person, freedom from fear, and a sense of
control. These chapters will prove enlightening to most readers (particularly
adults nearing retirement assuming they are discovering that "things"
can't provide the meaningfulness they want in their lives).
The final chapter, Dematerializing,
presents some questions to ask ourselves about our possessions. These
questions can work two ways. First, if asked BEFORE buying some item, they may
keep us from doing so. Second, if asked AFTER buying the item, they may help
us give that item away in the future. These questions are: "Why are you
holding on to something? Do you still need it? Do you still want it? Will
you run out and buy something else just like it if you get rid of it? Will you
still want, want, and want? Page 255]"
One step to dematerializing is to "clear
out" the unneeded stuff in our lives and homes. Here the author discusses
the difference between true deprivation (not having food or shelter) and not
having some new object that isn't linked to the essentials of life. If only we
could get this difference across to our children at a young age! Get rid of
what isn't really needed.
Step two is to discover the real
reasons we choose to keep certain things. Do they have some emotional value
for us? She gives the example of a mother with a son begging for a basketball
hoop. She has him consider the fact that you can't buy "being tall enough
Limiting the time we spend in front
of televisions, movie screens, or computers will free up time for other things --
such as spending time with our family playing a game -- instead of being fed
more materialistic messages. "Sleeping on it" is yet another means
of getting us to stop and think before making a purchase. Instituting a day of
rest (that isn't spent shopping) helps people refocus their lives on what is
important. "Create a will for living" -- list your values, things
you want, and what you already have -- is another suggestion. Think about what
you would really like to leave behind for others when you leave this earth.
Rethink the size of what you buy -- do you really need that extra large cup of
coffee? Spend time with living things (people, animals) instead of inanimate
objects. Learn to view yourself as "lucky" because of what you DO
have, not unlucky because of what you DO NOT have. Look for the "spark"
or "realness" in people you meet -- don't look just at what they wear
Recommendation: I am reluctant
to recommend this book to the average reader. The title may lead you to expect
to learn how to get rid of excess belongings instead of learning a new
viewpoint towards things. If you like a bit of philosophy, this is definitely
a book for you. If not, pass it by.
© 2003 Diana
Diana Pederson lives in Lansing, Michigan.
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