The path to fulfillment and moderation

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The Dark Side of Overconsumption: Unused Possessions and the American Dream

During the last Christmas season, while passing my neighbor’s house, I couldn’t help but notice his car parked outside the garage, which led me to reflect on the epitome of the American dream. If you look closely, you’ll probably find that many of his neighbors adopt the same practice. Maybe you are doing it too. One of the underlying reasons behind this trend is the accumulation of items over time, turning our homes into storage spaces for things we may never use.

Our society has embraced consumerism, making it the pinnacle of our priorities, and this is evident in our world-leading levels of consumption. Alongside this, corporate greed prevails. We are incessantly bombarded with captivating product images, drawing us in with their vibrant colors, novel features, irresistible flavors, and more. Giant corporations cleverly manipulate public psychology through discounting and sales tactics. In addition, special occasions, festive seasons, and events are specifically designed to fuel the urge to keep buying, relentlessly encouraging us to acquire more and more.

The impact of commercialization: family ties and the search for material wealth

Consider This… The Christmas holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other similar occasions are highly commercialized, drawing the masses with sales that tap into their desire for self-gratification. But here’s the question: do these business activities really improve our relationships, or have family ties been deteriorating with each passing decade?

The demarcation between needs and wants has become so blurred that the average person experiences a sense of deprivation when their wants go unfulfilled. Social media has only intensified this phenomenon. Now, people don’t just compare themselves to their neighbors; They are competing on a global scale. Material wealth is acquired in pursuit of that long-awaited “wow” effect and the accumulation of likes.

The high price of materialism: adverse effects on the environment and well-being

Such levels of consumption not only place an immense burden on resources, but also have adverse effects on the environment. Compared to other countries, the average American lives a remarkably luxurious lifestyle. In his book “The High Price of Materialism,” psychologist Tim Kasser offers a thought-provoking perspective. He claims that as people embrace materialistic values, their overall happiness and life satisfaction decline, while feelings of depression and anxiety increase. Additionally, Kasser suggests that materialistic individuals are more inclined to exhibit selfish behavior and mistreat or manipulate others.

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Debunking Consumerism: The Truth Behind Happiness and Relationships

Interestingly, this contradicts the messages that are constantly bombarding the masses. Extensive advertising campaigns go to great lengths to convince people that purchasing certain products will bring them happiness and joy. Sometimes they even imply that buying specific items will enhance your relationships, making them more meaningful and harmonious. However, the truth seems to be quite the opposite. In contemporary society, the consequences of rampant consumerism are evident on multiple fronts. We are witnesses of crises ranging from usurers, physical and mental breakdown for Environmental degradation, all derived from unbridled behaviors of individuals who succumb to impulses and temptations. It has become a lifestyle akin to addiction, where the constant acquisition of new products and services is required to achieve a fleeting sense of satisfaction.

Uncovering patterns of consumption: individualism and impact on the population

The average person in the developed world often believes that they are not overspending, but the reality is that they may not be aware of the magnitude of their consumption. One contributing factor is the individualistic nature of our lives. Conversely, households with more family members tend to consume less, since resources are shared among the larger group. While corporate America may propagate the notion that overpopulation is the cause of environmental degradation, consumption levels in the most populous countries are actually lower than in the US.

Islamic Teachings on Consumerism: Rights, Waste, and Moderation

Consumerism has also given rise to a system of exploitation, where large corporations search impoverished nations for cheap labor and sell the resulting goods at exorbitant prices, thus ensuring substantial profits for themselves. In Islam, there is a deep emphasis on the rights of all entities on the planet, along with guidance against waste. The teachings encourage people to strike a balance between being stingy and spendthrift, managing their affairs in a moderate manner. Reckless spending is considered to be influenced by the actions of the devil.

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The Qur’an addresses this issue, stating: “And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not overspend. In fact, the wasteful are brothers of the demons, and Satan has always been ungrateful to the Lord of him ”(Quran 17: 26-27). These verses highlight the importance of fulfilling obligations to family, helping those in need, and avoiding extravagant and wasteful spending. The act of waste is likened to being aligned with the devil, while ingratitude towards God is attributed to Satan.

Balancing desires and rights: Islamic perspective on material possessions

When we examine our inclination to purchase material possessions through the lens of Islam, two key aspects come to mind. First, there is the pursuit of desires. Often, we hastily strive to fulfill our wishes without considering the possible negative consequences. Islam condemns this behavior and promotes restraint and delayed gratification, encouraging people to exercise good judgment in satisfying their needs. Second, Islam emphasizes the importance of recognizing the rights of those around us. He advocates a way of life that balances the collective good over individualistic and selfish pursuits. Our relatives, the needy, the destitute and humanity as a whole have a part of what we possess and therefore charity is a pillar of Islam.

Islam envisions a society built on welfare principles and rejects exploitation. It is crucial to recognize that the more we focus solely on ourselves and our desires, the more discontent we become. True peace and contentment are found in the cultivation of a sense of contentment. When combined with a meaningful purpose, it leads to a deeply rewarding and fulfilling life. The Qur’an says: “And [they are] those who, when they spend, do not spend excessively or in moderation, but are always, among that, justly moderate” (Quran 25:67). This verse underscores the importance of maintaining a balanced approach to spending and generosity.

Escaping Materialism: Finding True Happiness Through Moderation And Purpose

It is time we reframed our mindset and recognized that our consumer-oriented mindset not only harms our own well-being but also has negative consequences for others. Materialism cannot bring lasting happiness, and the relentless pursuit of wealth through competition drains the joy out of life. Accordingly, Tony Robbins, a renowned life coach who has worked with presidents, athletes, and billionaires, observed that among the rich and successful people he encountered, the ones who experienced true happiness were those who had a sense of aim and a focus on giving back to others. In short, Islam teaches us the value of moderation, contentment, and a purposeful life. By embracing these principles, we can free ourselves from the trappings of materialism and find genuine satisfaction while positively impacting the lives of others.