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Social media, materialism, making memories and better mental health

I want to look at some of our habits that make us seek contentment in the wrong places, driven by the media, advertising and keeping up with everyone else.

Do you use social media? Do you find yourself checking your phone as soon as you wake or before you go to bed?

Do you engross yourself in materialistic past times, like shopping?

Materialism is rife in the western world, for many who can afford to indulge in it. Some who cannot simply get a credit card and qualm their desires on borrowed money. Either way, it is important to recognise just how much enjoyment it does or doesn’t bring us. A nice home, a nice car, nice clothes, the ability to get beauty treatments etc, can all be enjoyable, but if they become almost the be all and end all, and don’t bring that much enjoyment then maybe we are looking in the wrong places for answers. Wanting the next best thing can actually lead to anxiety and/or depression. So, too, can social media, as it can lead to us wanting to look like things are better than they are for us, or we compare to others who seem to have it all better than us. Who knows what is true or false on the internet, but that part seems to sometimes go over our heads. And it’s no wonder. Materialism and social media have grown so rapidly in a short space of time, and neither come with a ‘how to’ instructions book, so we must work out how to manage them for ourselves. One way is to limit the time we spend on them; less shopping, and less surfing through social media sites. We can also choose what to buy or what to spend our time reading, by sifting and prioritising.

Buying things in person or on the internet and searching on social media sites are some of the least likely things to be stored in our memories unless they are really important. Let’s do a little test to see why.

Take ten or twenty minutes out now and search for some memories; anything that comes to mind. Write them down if you can. Stop reading this article now and do this exercise. It can be events from a long time ago or your more recent past, it doesn’t matter.

Hopefully, they will be memories of an experience you had, but they may also be based around material objects, like getting your first car or buying your first home. We create memories, generally, when we are ‘in the moment’ at the time, utilising any, or all, of our five natural senses; sight, sound, taste, touch or smell.

Thinking of a memory now, which of the senses were you using at the time it was happening?

Was it a wonderful meal that smelt, looked and tasted great?

Was it the look on someone’s face when you surprised them and what they said?

Was it happy, sad, exciting?

We need to be using our senses to make memories. We are not going to remember a time when we were on auto pilot at the time. If we are not sensing we are not creating many emotions, so our emotions are often reliant on our senses as well.

Having these memories stored away, we can get in touch with many of them or they may be triggered by an event, a feeling or a trauma. If we really felt emotion and were in the moment at the time, we will have a different connotation to each – scary, jolly, calm etc. That is why we can eat something, see something, hear something, smell something or touch something, and it can bring about emotions that have been previously attached to them. For me, a treacle pudding will always remind me of my great aunt, some songs make me happy or sad or even angry, or a certain perfume will remind me of my mum etc.

So, my message is this… Try to experience life properly as much as possible. Try to make memories that count. Try to be in the moment as much as you can. We cannot do it all the time, but we can make efforts to try harder. Sit or walk and really smell, see and hear, and when eating really taste and smell your food. When with others, try to really be with them, not distracted by other things, like social media. And if you have some spare cash, instead of buying an object, could you use it to go out and experience something?

I watched a Ted Talk recently, and the presenter was saying, quite rightly, that, on our death bed, we are not going to start thinking about all the things we bought with money in our life, but of the memories we made with other people, experiences we had, and how we have utilised our lives.

For more information on mindfulness and using our senses, please CLICK HERE (will open a new tab) and scroll forward for each day 🙂

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