The meaning of things
lies not in the things
themselves but in our
attitude towards them.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
There seems to be an attitude among people in our
societies today that things are what's most
mean more to us than most other elements of our
lives. It isn't a recent trend--it's been around as
long as there have been human beings, I'm sure--but it's
much stronger now than before because of the amazing
intrusiveness of advertising. Nowadays, we have
people constantly telling us on TV, online, and on the
radio that the more things we have, the better our lives
will be. And our lives will be especially enriched,
of course, if we buy their things.
But things themselves bring nothing to our lives.
They gain meaning only through the meaning that we assign
to them. They are important to us only if we give
them importance. And how important they are
also is a result of the ways that we see them.
To me, a new set of markers or an inexpensive mp3 player
can bring me as much joy as a brand-new television set or
an expensive new coat. There are many new things in
my life that are simply functional, and I never let things
become too important to me--I truly want to be able to
lose any thing that I have and not have it affect my state
of mind or my happiness. Instead, I want to focus on
improving those parts of my life that aren't material--my
intellect, my ability to do my job, my relationships, my
spirit. If I let things have too much dominance in
my life, then I neglect those other parts of me that
never should be neglected.
Sometimes we ask ourselves, "what does this mean to
me?" But virtually nothing in our lives has
meaning that we don't assign to it--what some see as a
disaster, others see as opportunity. What some see
as horrible, others see as challenging. With things,
it's important to keep in mind that they're all meant to
be functional, not integral--they're there to make our
lives easier or simpler, not to be central parts of our
What meanings do you give to things in your life? Are you
constantly aware of the fact that you're assigning
What things in your life might have more meaning than they
truly deserve? How did they achieve that meaning?
Why do we tend to place so much meaning on things?
What other options do we have?
No doubt we would all agree with the sentiment:
“There’s more to life
than things.” Yet much of our lives seem to be spent in the acquisition,
maintenance, and disposal of material goods.
Certainly we cannot enjoy
the basics of food, shelter, and
clothing without a concern for things. The truly important things of life, however, are those which
encountered by the physical senses, purchased with money, or
on a shelf. When
we take a look at what we value most in life, we generally
family, friends, health, peace, contentment, laughter, helping others,
and communion with God foremost on our list of priorities.
people behind the words
and excerpts - Daily
Two - Year Three
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