The idea is simple- we’re conditioned to be good consumers. We derive self-worth and approval of others through purchasing “stuff.” This drive to buy newer and bigger things causes us to develop a single-minded focus on making money, which takes time. We’re exchanging a large chunk of our lives for money to buy stuff. Is that new car, iPad, or antique cat statue really worth it?
Even those that may not have the ability or drive to earn money to buy stuff still spend a significant portion of their lives trying to acquire more material goods through alternative means. My friend Christian often joked about spending countless hours developing his blog just to get some occasional swag to review.
Adopting the idea of freely giving and expecting nothing in return does wonders to correct this problem. How?
- First, it shifts the motivation for work from the extrinsic motivation of gaining material goods to the intrinsic motivation of making a difference. I spend A LOT of time on this blog and get nothing in return. I like it that way. Most of my posts are written to help people in some way with no expectation of anything in return. As such, it never gets old.
- Second, it makes you carefully consider what you buy and why you buy it. As I said before, it’s impossible to escape materialism. I buy stuff. For example, this post is being written on a laptop which I purchased. The biggest change for me is a true understanding of what we need versus what we want. I rarely buy anything I don’t need.
- Third, it saves money, which gives us more free time. Once we’re free of spending our time earning money to buy stuff we don’t need, we can spend our time helping others and/or doing awesome stuff. Shelly and I travel the country running in cool-ass places with cool-ass people. When we tell our runner friends our story, most wish they could do something similar. They don’t realize they could. Unfortunately they believe they need more money to do what we do. It’s far easier than that; they just have to give up the stuff they don’t need. The more freedom from materialism you achieve, the more freedom you have.
The idea of giving as a means of attempting to counter our society’s rampant materialism. It sets up a “giving” paradigm instead of a “taking” paradigm. Freely giving gifts has the power to transform your life. Give it a shot. You’ll like the results.