Why material things aren't everything (and when to let go of the stuff)

Clinical psychologist Dr. Helgo Schomer says many people today are preoccupied with accumulating 'stuff', yet lack any real fulfillment.

But why have we become so materialistic, asks Dr Schomer?

He says there are both evolutionary and deep psychological explanations for our attachment to material possessions.

There is an inner discontent inside of us.. We have this incessant chattering in our minds to have more, be more climb more, compete more. There's got to be a lot of bling-bling.

Dr Helgo Schomer, behavioural psychologist

According to Dr Schomer, living in a time of constant restless dissatisfaction can create a disturbance in our minds, alienating us from our real selves.

Is the 'more' going to enhance your life or is it going to make you less happy? Materialism is burdening you if it disconnects you from a sense of being and the social world.

Dr Helgo Schomer, behavioural psychologist

He says hyper-materialism can be a sign of fragile ego, and he urges people to seek happiness in other enriching ways.

Dr Schomer explains that after fulfilling basic needs such as shelter, food, education, clothes, people should pursue the following (before wealth and 'stuff'):

  • a challenging job
  • meaningful relationships
  • fascinating hobbies
  • social outreach or goodwill projects
  • a deeper sense of purpose

Listener Nqobile called in to share her experience about how she unburdened herself from material objects.

I decided that I'm going to use that money for life experience instead of accumulating other things... It's been the most liberating thing I've ever done.

Nqobile, CapeTalk/702 listener

Lulama also testified about how liberating it is to donate things you no longer need to other people.

One thing grandma always said (something) that always stuck to me: a full hand has no capacity to take.

Lulama, CapeTalk/702 listener

Other callers opened up to host Eusebius Mckaiser and Dr Schomer, take a listen:

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