Ever bought something only to later realize having it didn’t make you as happy as you thought it would? Beyond a case of buyer’s remorse, there is a deeper realization to be gleaned from an experience like this once a man deprograms his mind from its indoctrination into a cult of materialism and stops chasing materialistic fantasies. Fantasies that what we own makes us better human beings and will bring us happiness are put into our minds by decades of mainstream media manipulation and edumacation system indoctrination.
There’s nothing farther from the truth. Psychological research is beginning to prove just what a farce the consumer economy is when it comes to actually making people happy.
First of all, possessions are a prison of their own. The things we buy are effectively paid for by lost experiences. Which will you remember most on your deathbed? A $2,000 flat panel TV or a $2,000 vacation to an exotic island where you banged twenty-something ass the entire time?
The things we own also own us back as they consume time, energy and even more money as we keep them up, maintain them, and buy larger homes to fit them inside of. Then there are the endless “upgrades” that also consume our money and our lives.
One of the best ways to see how much of our lives stuff is consuming is to look at all the things piled up in our homes. One of the best ways to do this is either to clean out the closet, or even better – to move. I moved several times during my career in the media (before I fled that industry in disgust to create this blog) and I can’t tell you what an eye-opener that experience was.
I had closets, boxes, and storage filled with material things. I wondered why I even bought many of those items as I began going through all that stuff, and I began to think to myself: Man, I would really like to have all the money I spent on this stuff back! I don’t need these things, but I do need the money!
I had to give away, sell (at a fraction of the cost I originally paid) or trash things that cumulatively cost me thousands of dollars when I bought them at retail in order to make everything fit into the moving truck. I slowly started to realize what a waste of money and effectively my life buying things really was, and over time realized the ingeniousness of the minimalist philosophy.
One of the realizations that comes with living the minimalist philosophy is that money buys freedom. And a man has a lot of freedom if he’s not chasing materialistic fantasies and instead uses his income as a wealth-building tool (i.e. saving and investing) and as a vehicle to have lots of interesting life experiences.
Adopting minimalism is one of the most powerful ways men can both take control of their lives and push back against a system that benefits from exploiting masculine utility. Living minimalistically is also an extension of the Going Galt philosophy.
Another important realization is for men to learn to make the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Most people chase extrinsic goals by default, without even realizing what they’re doing.
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Goals
We are told, nay commanded to pursue extrinsic goals our entire lives. It’s as if social engineers know chasing them will drive infinite spending but will never deliver the contentment people seek in their lives. Buying things only brings fleeting pleasure, unlike setting other goals in life.
The key is realizing the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic happiness. What is the difference between these two kinds of happiness? Psychologist Tim Kasser, known for his work on materialism and well-being told interviewers:
We make a distinction between two different kinds of goals or values people might pursue in life. Intrinsic goals and extrinsic goals. So extrinsic goals are extrinsic in that they’re goals focused on something external to you. They’re focused on rewards, they’re focused on praise, and they’re focused on getting stuff.
Kasser’s research focused on extrinsic goals like:
- Money – financial and material success
- Image – looking good, having the right appearance and a good-looking Fakebook life
- Status – social status and popularity
None of the above goals brought the subjects of the study lasting happiness, even though the consumer culture we are stewed and basted in from birth tells us these things are what matters and are what will make us happy, competent adults. Myths like these keep men and women toiling away on the hedonic treadmill while true happiness evades them. Extrinsic goals like these stand in direct opposition to intrinsic goals. Kasser continues:
Intrinsic goals are inherently satisfying in and of themselves, because they have to do with intrinsic psychological needs all people have.
So what are the intrinsic goals Kasser studied? They include:
- Personal growth – trying to be who we really are
- Relationships – having close and connected relationships with friends and family
- Community feeling – a desire to help and make the world a better place
Here’s the conundrum.
We found that extrinsic goals are on the complete opposite side of value systems compared to intrinsic goals. They’re in opposition with each other. People who were more oriented towards money, image and status were reporting less satisfaction with their lives. They were more depressed, more anxious, and we found they felt less vital and less energized in their day to day life.
So, scientific evidence is mounting that being slaves to consumerism isn’t helping us as men as much as it is helping the corporate-government complex make fortunes off our backs. The consumer economy is a textbook example of the carrot and stick analogy. Kasser’s conclusion is that intrinsic goals are where it’s at when it comes to happiness.
Intrinsically oriented people were more happy. They reported more vitality, less depression and less anxiety.
The truth couldn’t be plainer than that. And I can testify to the veracity of Kasser’s claims as I have lived the transformation from consummate Beta male consumer in my 20s to minimalistic, laid back ZFG Sigma male in my 30s.
The key was realizing nothing I own was making me happy beyond my basic needs. I also realized some of the wealthiest people I knew were also some of the most miserable and conniving people I ever met. It may be that men like me will always be in the minority, but I can assure you I’m a happy motherfucker since throwing off the shackles of materialism.
There’s no doubt this wisdom could also help millions of other men.
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