In the Weekend FT, "The Shrink & The Sage" ask, "Should we seek material security?". I particularly like the Shrink's response:
"It may be easy to agree that an acquisitive approach to life is not likely to be good for our mental health. But surely a certain amount of material security is a prerequisite for wellbeing? After all, safety sits squarely near the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, among those that should be satisfied first in order for us to move on to higher ones such as achievement and creativity.
And yet there are many examples of people who deprive themselves of common necessities for the sake of something they see as more valuable...
The traditions that encourage us to toss away what most of us crave also point to the fact that these things can only give us an illusion of safety. Ultimate security is not an achievable aim. Instead of chasing chimeras, we should learn to come to terms with life’s fundamental insecurity.
The idea of giving up all the common human ambitions – not only material security but also love, belonging, recognition – may be daunting for most of us. Not many people would want to forego these most natural of goals, which on average tend to make people’s lives better. But in a world where the satisfaction of evolved needs is often portrayed as a necessary condition of wellbeing, it’s good to entertain the possibility that these desires don’t have to be pandered to unreflectively.
Only some of us will choose the ascetic path of renunciation. But all of us can learn the lesson that if these goods are not indispensable to some, they need not be everything to the rest of us. It’s sensible to plan for our pension but we should do it without excessive fear and anxiety."
For more good stuff, see the Shrink and Sage blog here.