If You Criticize Materialism, Does That Mean You Feel You Don't Deserve It?
Since I've been very critical of The Secret, every once in a while I will poke around Joe Vitale's blog and comment here or there. (I will also freely acknowledge that his blog gets a lot of traffic, and posting there is a bit of guerrilla marketing on my part.)
Joe, as you might remember, was the guy in The Secret who likened the universe to one big cosmic catalog that you could order a Ferrari from at will. He recently wrote a post in his blog, Thresholds: Is it serving or selling? Here, he gives the typical response to people who criticize the materialism of The Secret, suggesting that those who have a problem with it are just feeling "undeserving."
I've heard this sort of thing before, from other wealth gurus. It is a piece of deceptive propagandist thinking that works to short circuit your critical mind. It is built on fear. The general statement goes like this: If you criticize materialism or wealthy people, you are pushing money away from you and perhaps condemning yourself to the poorhouse!
Well, guess what? I don't think there's some magic money genie sitting around taking away a dollar from you each time you think a bad thought about rich people. Let's take Paris Hilton. You know what? I think Paris Hilton is a shallow, pathetic excuse for a human being who should do more with herself than just run around flaunting her skinny little body. Woops, there goes that dollar. Riiiight.
But there's a bigger picture here. Why have we gotten so off-track that we are now equating spiritual superiority with crass materialism?
I will share with you an excerpt of the comment I wrote on Joe's blog, and then explain a little more what I am talking about. Here's what I wrote:
I go to a yoga center where the volunteers there have given up their material possessions to focus solely on their spirituality....these volunteers, with no money or personal possessions, absolutely DO help other people. And they seem supremely happy and fulfilled. Peaceful. Serene. Grounded.
People who eschew material wealth are not living by limited beliefs so much as unplugging themselves from the stuff "out there" that is ultimately unnecessary in order to have a fulfilling life.
I am wondering if you would be happy without your wealth, fame, and cars. If you can truly say you would be, then...hmm...
Well, then...I ask you...why do you need them in the first place? Do you really need to have the fancy car to feel good about yourself?
I happen to like stuff and gadgets and toys myself, but I just don't think they are necessary to make me happy. In fact, I have too much "stuff" and I am working to get rid of a lot of it. I want to be lighter and freer! :-)
I am not rich according to some people, but I have always been provided for. I have everything I need...food, a home that is more than big enough for myself, transportation, friends, love, and my improving health. Passion, and lots of it. An incredible amount of brains and talent, more, really, than I need. I have been blessed.
Here's the thing, though. The one thing I learned, when I got chronic fatigue syndrome at a young age, is that basing your happiness on how much you "succeed" is a false self-esteem. Basing your happiness on the amount of wealth you have is also false self-esteem. I used to want to show people that I was "successful" and somehow that would make me feel validated.
My illness made me come to terms with the fact that I can't be superwoman all the time. I can't be the star. I'm not necessarily going to be rich or famous, and that's OK. What a BLESSING I got from this. I have learned to love me just for me and not because I "did" something or have something to show for myself. All I have to show for myself is...well...me.
It is a common mistake to judge other people who criticize materialism as people who are just "bitter" about rich people. Nope. I really just feel that there is so much more to feel happy about. I think The Secret is off-base and teaches people to focus on shallow, external things instead of inner well-being.
Here's the thing. When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I craved success like a drug. I wanted fame and fortune. And money. I spent a lot of time and energy following the teachings of various wealth gurus. I've been to T. Harv Ecker's Millionaire Mind Intensive. I own books by Catherine Ponder. I even tried (and tossed) the introductory Abraham-Hicks tapes on the Law of Attraction.
Did this stuff work for me? No.
Finally, I realized that I was looking in the wrong place. I was looking outside myself for validation. You see, in high school, I was a very successful straight-A student, but I didn't feel very loveable or even likeable.
Wanting success and money as an adult was my way to "prove" to everyone else that I was OK.
You see it here in Los Angeles all the time - people driving expensive cars in order to show everyone else that they have succeeded in some way. Even if for some it just shows they have succeeded in landing a rich man!
In fact, briefly I lived with a man who was working at Microsoft and making over six figures with his bonuses. Driving the nicer car was nice, because it had really great steering. But driving my older car wasn't so bad either.
As I have unplugged myself from my deep self-esteem issues, I have craved fame and fortune less and less, to the point where I am actually a bit reluctant to put myself out to the world publicly. Only, now I have a message!! I need to speak up and talk about these issues because so many people are out there giving the wrong message.
My honest to goodness dream home would be a simple small house, a cottage of maybe two or three bedrooms, in the exact neighborhood I live in now. Maybe slightly bigger, if I had a husband and kids. That's it. I don't want or need a huge mansion. I don't want the upkeep. I don't want to have yards of lawn to maintain. I don't want to live all the way up in Malibu where I would have to drive a mile down the mountain just to get my groceries.
So where is there an issue of not feeling "deserving" in all of this? I simply want a simple lifestyle. That's what feels good to me.