Material Possessions – Understanding Those That Matter

We’ve all seen the ads and celebrity endorsements for the most popular brands and trends.  They’re basically shoved down our throats as we scroll through our feeds on social media.

Material possessions have long been touted as status symbols of wealth and power. Some are also precious mementos with meaningful significance. Having a healthy amount of material possessions can give us benefits while helping to live a simple, calm, inspired, happy life.

What are some of the items in your home you’re proud to own and why?  Do you need these things to get by, or is it merely a status symbol?

What Are Material Possessions?

Material possessions are the physical items and belongings we hold on to.  It’s basically stuff that takes up space and costs money. They commonly include clothing, electronics, books, extra tools, materials, furniture, project supplies, collections, and whatever one chooses to accumulate, physcially, over time.

The importance of material possessions can vary from person to person and culture. Some people may attach great importance to owning things, while others may prioritize minimalism or place greater value on experiences. It’s worth understanding that material possessions may wear and tear, become outdated, and might not provide long-term happiness or fulfillment.

Electronics on a desk - How To Disconnect - Gone Minimal
Electronics on a desk

Examples of Popular Material Possessions

Out of the many things people collect as signs of wealth, affluence, or social status, there are a few that are more popular than others.  Here are some examples of material possessions people like to own:

  • Big, fancy houses in upscale or sought after neighborhoods
  • Flashy, expensive cars
  • Brand name clothing and accessories
  • Multiple pairs of shoes for every occasion
  • Jewelry
  • Anything and everything “trendy”

Something to remember about popular material possessions is that they often change.  Different time periods lead to the rise and fall of certain brands and trends.  Hence what causes many people chasing after material possessions to always wanting more.

Obsession With Material Possessions

We’ve been shown on television and social media that material possessions equal power and prestige.  Who wouldn’t want more of that?  Minimalists, for one thing.  People are obsessed with material items because we are bombarded with it day in and day out.  We can’t escape it without disconnecting and getting rid of what we don’t need.

Benefits of Getting Rid of Material Possessions

It’s just too difficult and not worth it to try and chase the material bandwagon.  If we let go of stuff as a status symbol, we have the potential to become better and more rounded (as well as happier!) people.  There are more benefits to getting rid of the material possessions than risks:

  • Save money
  • Save space
  • Save time
  • Less cleaning
  • Less organizing
  • Less stress
  • More time and money for what really matters

There’s something to be said for decluttering and reevaluating your lifestyle.  Minimalists are excellent people to look to for advice and finding true value in life.  Once you’ve decided you don’t need all of the material possessions, you’re probably asking yourself: How do I get rid of this?  Read on!

Recycle - Conscious Consumerism - Gone Minimal
Recycling bin

How to Get Rid of Material Possessions

The best way to get started with ridding yourself of material possessions is to make a plan.  Ask yourself the following:

  1. What items can I live without?
  2. How much stuff do I want to get rid of?
  3. Where will I take the stuff?
  4. Who can help me?
  5. Where do I want to start?

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’ll make it a bit easier to start getting rid of your stuff.  Identify all of the things you don’t need, and start collecting them.  Then figure out-donate, sell, or dispose of?  Donation can help families in need with things they cannot afford, so consider things like gently used clothing, shoes, and furniture for that route. 

Nicer items can be sold online or in a garage sale, so there’s a small win!  Everything else you can probably dispose of.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help-you may even be able to give some of the stuff to your friends!  Just remember to start small and take your time.  You didn’t collect all of the stuff overnight and you’re not going to clear it all out overnight

Helpful Insights About Material Possessions

Is Material Possession Good?

 Some material possession is good: weather-appropriate clothing and shoes, reliable transportation, a place to sleep, and shelter to keep you safe.  The type of stuff that is trendy, goes out of style quickly, or that doesn’t serve a true purpose in life are not so good.  They’re not always bad, they’re just not needed.  Material possession should be determined by needs versus wants.

Do Material Possessions Bring Happiness?

Just like the old saying “money doesn’t buy happiness”, material possessions don’t bring happiness.  If you find yourself in the race to own the latest and greatest and try to keep up with the Joneses, you’re most likely not happy and may never be.  True happiness is found in less stuff and more meaningful living.  Besides-less material possessions purchased leads to more money in the bank!

The video below gives some insight on the minimalism 10/10 Material Possessions Theory:

Why Am I So Attached to Material Things?

Well, why do you collect them?  Is it to fit in or be trendy?  Is it because you see people on social media with them and want to be like them?  Or is it because it reminds you of someone or a special event?  We tend to be attached to material things because it’s seen as a sign of wealth, or because we’ve assigned feelings and memories to them.  Either way it’s difficult to let go of things for some people.

How Do I Stop Wanting Material Things?

Let’s start with why you want them in the first place. 

  • If it’s because of what you’ve seen celebrities post on social media, consider disconnecting.
  • If it’s what your friends have, consider being a trendsetter and not following the crowd.
  • If it’s a sale sign, ask yourself-do I really need this, or do I just want it?
  • If you’re wanting to impress others, consider performing an act of kindness instead.

Consider looking into the lives of minimalists.  They believe in living life intentionally and with more meaning rather than more stuff.  Their homes are not cluttered with stuff, and they certainly couldn’t care less about impressing others or owning the latest and greatest brands.

Ask yourself why you want the things that you do, what you could live without, and what you could do with the money and time you save by not buying material possessions.  The possibilities are endless and completely up to you!

What Material Things We Can Let Go – Examples From Real People

In a poll of family and friends, I asked what three material things they would like to have less of and why.  The answers were varied and pretty random, but all made sense given their reasoning.  Everyone had very common things they’d like to get rid of, but weren’t sure how to do it or if perhaps some of it needed to be kept. 

A common response was clothing, because it’s still in good shape or perhaps they’d get back in shape and be able to wear them again (I empathize with this one greatly).  An interesting phenomenon occurred in the process-people shared ideas on how others could get rid of some of their stuff!

Material Thing# of People
Board games2
Home workout equipment4
Large house (too much space)2
Less brand name/designer goods2
Less plastic1
Less pills1
Nostalgic stuff (HS letter jackets, old work gear)2
Papers and books4
Stuff that’s still “good”2
Small kitchen appliances2
Pots and pans2
Children’s toys2
Legal documents2
Cell phones1
Junk food1

Other Resources:

Material possessions do not bring happiness, nor do they actually demonstrate wealth.  The pursuit of material things is consumerism at its finest, and an addiction for some.  It’s important to know the difference between wants and needs to understand what we really need in life.  Can we live without the latest trend, the most expensive brands, and the most popular collectibles?  Undoubtedly YES!

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