MyMoney Online

13 random thoughts on living a happier, less materialistic life

(Click here for more personal finance articles.)

1

Know that material things cannot make you happy, but these things can: being grateful and giving thanks; savouring simple pleasures; forgiving yourself and others; loving kindness towards yourself and others; maintaining intimate relationships with family and friends and prioritising their happiness; exercise and healthy living; having a purpose; being passionate; serving others; losing yourself in whatever you're doing.

2

Having lots of money, driving a fancy car, owning a large house; many people assume that these things denote a successful, happy existence. However, when you lack love it becomes apparent that material things have little meaning. Will your stuff console you when you are sick or dying?

3

You'll probably be happier and less stressed if you work less. More free hours could mean more time for family, friends, play and the things you enjoy. Materialistic people incur heavy penalties in pursuit of their goals. The more materialistic you are the harder you have to work and the more indebted you're likely to be.

4

The happiest people seldom judge themselves by what others achieve or own.

5

Many couples are so worn out from working at high-stress jobs (so they can afford a nice house or fancy car) that they no longer have energy to bond. Life is materially comfortable, yet unsatisfying and exhausting.

6

Striving to be rich (or to own a particular house or drive a particular car) is not a goal that will lead to happiness. How rich is rich enough? There is always some product that you don't yet own or more money to make. These are goals that seem impossible to achieve; you keep on needing more. Rather strive for spiritual goals - like being a good friend - which satisfy permanently when achieved.

Before Silicon Graphics (his first company) Jim Clark, the founder of Netscape (his second), said a fortune of US$10-million would make him happy. Before he founded Netscape he was quoted as saying that once he had $100-million he'd have enough to be happy. Before Healtheon (company number three) he desired $1-billion. He recently told author Michael Lewis, "Once I have more money than Larry Ellison, I'll be satisfied." Ellison, the founder Oracle, is worth $13-billion.

7

Advertisers deliberately create feelings of inadequacy; we possess what we don't want and want what we don't have. They don't merely take advantage of unhappiness, but actively try to cultivate it. They present products in an unreal, completely distorted way so as to make them seem essential and capable of making us happy.

8

It's unlikely that chasing money per se can be satisfying. Rather focus on doing what you enjoy and what makes you happy. You're more likely to be successful in your job if money is not the objective.

9

To give up pretentions - to relinquish the race to keep with your neighbours - is a glorious, blessed relief.

10

It's clear to me that spending money on life experiences such as travelling makes people happier than spending on material things such as, say, buying a new car. Maybe it's because past experiences become better with time as our fallible memories reinterpret events? Or maybe it's harder to unfavourably compare experiences? Whatever the case may be, spending money on experiences is more likely to encourage social relationships than a material purchase and therefore stands a better chance causing lasting happiness.

11

Materialistic goals and living the "good life" are often mutually exclusive. It seems to me that the more people aspire to materialistic goals the less satisfied they become.

12

Will accepting all of this - that being less materialistic can make you a happier person - change many minds? I would hope so, but I have my doubts. We’re often blind to our own materialism. We easily finger someone else's fondness for, say, the latest gadget as materialistic, yet we view our own desire for the latest gizmo as essential to make work more efficient. You must be aware of your own materialism to avoid it. Furthermore, most people have a very broad definition of "needs". I "need" new shoes for gym, I "need" clothes for work, I "need" a larger car for my growing family…

Before you go without a new experience, or take a job you don't want, in order to meet your "needs", perhaps it's time you take a honest look at how real and pressing your "needs" really are?

13

Be content with what you have; it's great when you get richer, but don't stress or be competitive about it. Enjoy the simple fact of being alive and breathing. Relating to others is what truly makes people happy.

Subscribe to our Business Wrap Newsletter


CapeTalk welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the CapeTalk community a safe and welcoming space for all.

CapeTalk reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

CapeTalk is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
3 shares that’ll boost your wealth, if you buy now (by Cannon Asset Managers)

3 shares that’ll boost your wealth, if you buy now (by Cannon Asset Managers)

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Cannon Asset Managers Portfolio Manager Samantha Steyn.

6 tips on how to avoid overspending this festive season

6 tips on how to avoid overspending this festive season

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Galileo Capital Personal Financial Advisor Warren Ingram.

3 shares you’ll do well to buy this week (by Cartesian Capital)

3 shares you’ll do well to buy this week (by Cartesian Capital)

It’s Stock Pick Monday on The Money Show. Bruce Whitfield interviews Cartesian Capital CEO Anthea Gardner.

Wanna be debt free, less stressed and happy? It’s (literally) quite simple

Wanna be debt free, less stressed and happy? It’s (literally) quite simple

South African “consumers” (word chosen intentionally) are broke and stressed. It needn't be this way…

How much money is enough for you to be happy?

How much money is enough for you to be happy?

We speak to the author of "How much is enough? – Maximising Wealth and Well-being”; a personal finance book like none other.

Money CAN make you happy (but only if you don’t buy stuff with it)

Money CAN make you happy (but only if you don’t buy stuff with it)

Can money make you happy? Research proves it can, but only if you give it away or buy experiences instead material goods.

Popular articles
Financially prepare yourself before the wedding bells

Financially prepare yourself before the wedding bells

Liberty Legal Marketing Specialist, Faeeza Khan talk us through a few financial pointers before getting hitched.

Oscar's family unhappy with producers as movie makes SA debut this weekend

Oscar's family unhappy with producers as movie makes SA debut this weekend

The movie stars Joburg-born actor Andreas Damm as Pistorius and Victoria Secret model Toni Garrn as Reeva Steenkamp.

Statement to remove LLB programme from SA universities is misleading: Max Price

Statement to remove LLB programme from SA universities is misleading: Max Price

Max Price says Council on Higher Education's announcement that UKZN, UCT and UL could lose their LLB accreditation is not right.

Is taking items from the hotel room stealing?

Is taking items from the hotel room stealing?

Tsogo Sun Cape regional manager explains which items are free to be taken home by guests and why.

WATCH: Innovative spray limits toilet flushes and saves water

WATCH: Innovative spray limits toilet flushes and saves water

Loo Me is a simple yet effective scented foam that takes the yuck out of "mellowing" toilets preventing multiple flushes.