A recent New York Times article interviewed an Indian holy man who recommended three practices to counteract the materialism at Christmas.
First, collect experiences vs. things. Physical things will vanish from our minds, but experiences will remain. Studies suggest experiences makes us happier than things do.
Second, avoid excessive usefulness. This means do things because you love doing them, not just because they are practical and will help you achieve something. In a famous study where some people were paid to solve puzzles and others were not, the unpaid people continued to work on the puzzles long after the paid people finished. And the unpaid people reported having a happier experience.
Third, live from your center. From Roman times through medieval times, fortune was represented as a wheel. All around the wheel’s edge were winners and losers. This “wheel of fortune” continually turned winners into losers and vice versa.
The only way to escape the wheel was to live in the center, a place of faith (if you are religious) or a place of non-attachment. In Tibetan, attachment means “sticky desire”.
There is nothing wrong with desiring things, so long as there is no fear or desperation (“stickiness”) about being without them.
May we pursue our paths, remembering to live from our center, focusing on what is most important,