It is human nature to need and desire security.
We’ve just been looking for it in all the wrong places.
A sense of security can come either from material goods or from supportive relationships. In fact, researchers point out that people who do not feel loved and accepted by others tend to put a stronger emphasis on material possessions.
Margaret Clark, a professor of psychology at Yale, writes it this way:
Humans are social creatures with vulnerabilities. Close relationships afford protections. For example, infants wouldn’t survive without other people. But material possessions also afford protection and security. Humans need food, clothing and shelter to survive. It takes a mix of things to make you feel secure. But if you heighten one source of security, people feel less concerned about the others.
This finding was based on two unique research projects she and her colleagues conducted and published in the March 2011 issue of The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. The researchers conclude from the studies that those who do not feel internally secure in their personal relationships will often put a higher value on physical possessions.
This is an important reality for each of us to consider and understand.
Those supported in close relationships don’t place as much value on material goods.
In our society, too many of us believe security can be adequately found in the personal ownership of accumulated possessions. Now, there is some degree of truth to that statement. Certainly, food and water and clothing and shelter are essential for survival. But the list of possessions that we truly need for life is quite minimal.
Instead, we have confused needs with wants and security with luxury.
As a result, many of us pursue and collect large stockpiles of possessions in the name of security or happiness. We work long hours to purchase them. We build bigger houses to store them. And we spend more energy maintaining them.
The burden of accumulating and maintaining slowly becomes the main focus of our lives.
We spend our time and energy chasing things that are physical in nature. We dream of a future that includes larger paychecks and bigger houses. We plot and plan to acquire them. We go to great lengths to care for them and we become jealous when others have more of them. We seek security in the accumulation of finances and material acquisition.
But the security found in possessions is fragile and fleeting at best. (tweet that)
In our busy, hectic, run-run-run world, we are left with too little time or opportunity to develop deep interpersonal relationships. We are too distracted building our own personal kingdoms.
The research (and probably our own hearts) argue against this thinking. They call us to remember the importance of things that can not be seen with the naked eye or purchased with money: love, friendship, hope, integrity, trust, compassion. These are the things that bring substance, fulfillment, and lasting joy to our lives. These are the attributes that bring lasting security.
May we seek and pursue them. And may we provide a foundation of lasting security for our lives because of it.