Minimalism vs. Materialism: Can There Be a Happy Medium?

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C · December 5, 2018

Minimalism

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, but that doesn’t mean that holiday sales aren’t still in full swing. The marketing industry works overtime to prepare for the biggest sales season of the year and make families, couples and friends feel like they need to spend more to give the best, most memorable gift. While materialism is on one end of the spectrum, minimalism is gaining traction on the opposite end. Can there be a happy medium between the two?

Minimalism and Materialism

Materialism is putting an unhealthy priority on physical objects and other “stuff.” Many people don’t think of themselves as materialistic, but also build massive custom closets to hold an abundance of things and rent storage units to fill with excess belongings. Minimalists frown on having too many belongings and hold that simpler is better. Going a step further, some minimalists believe that the key to happiness in life is owning the fewest amount of possessions possible.

Signs You Might Have a “Stuff” Problem

Today’s Americans, when compared to 55 years ago, eat out twice as much and own twice as many cars, but most people don’t seem to be any happier. Instead of rising content, the only things rising are credit card debt and the numbers of storage facilities located throughout the country. If you are concerned you might have a materialism problem, don’t feel guilty. The goal of marketing is to sell you as many things as possible, so you’re really just falling into the trap that companies spend millions of dollars to set. What are the signs you might have a problem?

  • Your things prevent you from making life choices that would be beneficial to you, like selling your home or moving somewhere else
  • You find yourself shopping as a way to distract yourself from your emotions or boredom
  • You see the things that you own as the main way you demonstrate your value to the world
  • You find yourself continually investing in storage to reorganize your belongings every year

A Happy Medium

However, minimalism isn’t for everyone. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the clothes in your closet, lingering over the books on your shelves or relishing in your DVD collection. There’s a growing movement focused on striking a balance between materialism and minimalism. One of the most important tenants of minimalism is finding joy in every object that you own. This concept can be a platform for bridging the gap between the two extremes and finding a happy middle ground. Whether it’s a coffee maker or old paperback book, everyone should think carefully about what they own and why they own it. By investing in things that bring us joy every day, we can surround ourselves with happiness instead of just “more.”

Find Your Happy Medium 

If you are struggling with materialism you are not alone.  Reach out to the CBT experts at CBT Baltimore at 443-470-9815. We would love to speak with you and help.