Ecclesiastes 4:4 Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
Advertising has a goal. To make you discontent. I’ve developed advertising and marketing for a couple of decades so I’m in on the secret.
Your car is not new enough, feature-packed enough and doesn’t make you look as young, cool and successful as the newest model. You should be discontent with your car even though it is perfectly functional and transports you wherever and whenever you need comfortably.
Someone decided that your clothes are out of style and make you look less than hip and fashionable. Even though your current wardrobe is barely worn, you should be discontent because the same people who make the clothes and profit from them get to declare every year what is “in style”.
Your house isn’t big enough or nice enough. You don’t have all the cool toys that you deserve. You don’t make enough money. You don’t have all the things that make you hip, cool, successful, in style, in touch and part of the “in” crowd.
Discontentment. It is the fuel that powers materialism. Without advertising, product endorsements, celebrity pimping and cultural peer pressure, most of us have everything we need to be content: food, water, a bed, clothes, transportation, communication, entertainment… yet for some reason we need more, bigger, better and newer because we are pushed a thousand ways every day into being discontent with what we have. Most people don’t even realize it.
My wife and I have a modest home on an acre of land; we drive 6-10 year old cars with lots of miles; we have clothes that aren’t expensive or the most fashionable. My oldest son was sitting out in my backyard with me the other day and said, “you got your own little slice of heaven Pops”. He was right. A home, food, clothes, vehicles, some grass to run around on, clean water, air conditioner… what more could we need? Contrary to commercials, why do we “deserve” more? “You deserve…” is the most favored phrase in advertising to drive discontent, and coupled with our natural selfishness, becomes the crack pipe of materialism.
I think of what my son said every time I see a huge expensive home I know I’ll never be able to buy. I think of it when I see people driving by in brand new cars I can’t afford. I think of that whenever I see people dropping off their old clothes at Goodwill while dressed in really nice brand name clothes from this year’s coolest fashion trends.
I think of that every time a commercial reminds me I’m not cool or successful but that can change if I’ll just buy something from them. I think of that when envy rears its ugly head and makes me wish I had more of something that I see someone has.
Contentment. It’s a choice not based on what you have but how you think.
Think It Over: Being content comes with the right perspective. This life is short, unpredictable and temporary. Your money and possessions can disappear a thousand ways by the time the sun goes down. Most people spend every day of their lives being discontent… just one more purchase, one more dollar, one newer and bigger thing away from happiness. Like the carrot dangled in front of the donkey, always tempting you, always close but ultimately unattainable. Contentment isn’t about what you have, it’s a spiritual and mental maturity that originates in gratitude to God for He has blessed you with NOW. I have food, water, clothes and bed to sleep in. What is there to be discontent about? My own little slice of heaven…
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