Don’t Confuse Stuff for Success


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I remember when I was younger, I used to see bumper stickers that had the phrase, “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” At the time, I’m not really sure what that meant or how it was supposed to be perceived. In fact, here I am, at the age of 34 and I’m still not exactly sure what it means. Does it mean that material possessions are the measuring factor in determining a person’s lifetime success? Or is it a tongue-in-cheek way of saying that in death, those material possessions are meaningless? It’s something worth pondering, and honestly, it’s something that I don’t have a very good answer to. However, one thing I do know is true is that it is very easy for us to compare our lifestyles and our possessions with others, and depending on how we stack up against our neighbors, we may measure our assets, our toys, and our ‘stuff’ to determine success. We must learn to think differently. We must strive for greatness but must be careful not to confuse stuff with success. 

Fancy cars, mansions, and movie stars. It is what bombards us throughout the evening as we flip through the channels. We see our ‘heroes’ living these extravagant lives and we see people on ‘reality television’ living the high-life. “They must be super happy,” we think. But are they? Perhaps some of them are, but it is not because of what they possess. It is not the physical item that is making them happy, it is the feeling of self-appreciation, gratefulness, and appreciation. We have all heard enough stories about the very wealthy having similar problems that we often face. While some are truly happy, others succumb to depression, loneliness, and heartbreak. Can money buy you happiness? Perhaps to a certain level for a certain period of time. But can it buy you true happiness?

In no way am I saying that buying something nice is a bad thing, so if you have the means to buy something nice for yourself, feel free to spend, but be careful not to buy objects just for the sake of trying to keep up with the Jones’. If you go down this road, you will quickly realize that eventually nothing will satisfy your lust for bigger, faster, more expensive.

He Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins

Do they really win?

Would I like to have a newer car, a bigger place to live, and have the ability to spend more freely? Sure. In fact, I strive to be more successful, earn a larger wage, and have fewer worries about paying bills or having to be concerned about the unknown expenses that may occur. Wanting more and striving to be better is not the problem. The problem can occur when you finally realize that you are bringing in more dollars, and now all-of-a-sudden you’re adapting too quickly to that lifestyle. You know that fancy Mercedes you always wanted? Well, now you can afford it, so you go out and buy it. What happens six months later? Now it’s just a car and you have your eyes on a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, so you decide to upgrade. Your lust is satisfied…but it is only temporary. You start accumulating “stuff” to prove to yourself that you are successful, which should mean that you are happy, but are you truly happy? An unhappy person does not automatically become happier just because they have accumulated more possessions. An unhappy person becomes happy because of a change that occurs from within and the gratitude they express outward.

Children, Walking, Road, Distant, Supportive, Support

Activity: Think Backward and Examine How You Would Like to View Yourself

If today was your last day on Earth, what are FIVE things that you would be grateful for and would be proud of yourself for accomplishing? Do you think that you would write down the fancy cars you bought and the fancy house? Or would you think about the family you had, the business you built, and the places you’ve been? Would you cherish the ‘stuff’ you obtained or would you cherish the friendships and family you built?

Buy Yourself Experiences More Often Than You Buy Yourself Possessions

To be happier and to start living a Worry Free Life, try spending some of your money on experiences. Take that trip that you have always wanted to take. Eat that more expensive food item that you have stared at for so long on the menu at your favorite restaurant. Spend it on others, on friends, on family, and even strangers. In the end, he who dies with the most toys does not truly win…he who dies with the most memories and experiences is truly the one that wins!

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