“Entitlement to opulence is a seductive trap.” As explored in Stephanie Russell’s One Flash of Lightning: A Samurai Path for Living the Moment, the tangled web of possessions can trap us in pain. Sometimes we accumulate possessions because we think that particular things can meet an inner need, even though ultimately, external, material things can't fill the inner void.
Owning things and wanting things is not inherently bad. Russell continues, “The problem lies in having a personal identification with wealth, or with the power to gain and hold it, or with temporal power itself.” What would it take for you to balance the fine line of having things you want and need and knowing that at any point you could walk away from it all? What would it take for you to be “free from illusion about the intrinsic value of things”?
Russell proposes having a loose grip on worldly possessions, especially if tightening that grip will distort one’s intrinsic values. If the possession in question leads you to be overly possessive or act in a way that is inconsistent with your beliefs, it may be beneficial to put that possession aside and look elsewhere for something more worthy of your time, energy, and effort. Russell concludes, “If [one] waits till wealth is taken [away] by misfortune or death, [one] will not experience the quiet satisfaction of walking away from it on [one's] own.” There is life in seeing the world in a way that says I can take it or leave it. Because once a worldly thing has a hold on your value and worth, it has the ability to both bring you up emotionally and pull you down to a place you never intended to go.
Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.
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