There are different ways in which we can explain the world around us and the things that we experience. Sometimes, this philosophy we hold can be so ingrained we don’t realize it. But it definitely affects the choices we make. In particular, whether we are idealists or materialists can have a significant impact on our lives.
Let’s examine these two approaches and how you can identify where you are.
Idealism is a philosophy and a way of viewing the world that centers around the intangible. That is, it centers around things like the mind, the spirit, and so on. It seeks explanations for one’s behaviors and circumstances in the person’s inner reality and the spiritual world, depending on what they believe in and which values they hold.
How does that work? If a idealistic person is seeking to change their current situation, they might focus on improving themselves and changing their mindset. They would focus more on understanding why their situation is like it is and what thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes might be leading to it.
Often, people with idealistic views believe in specific ideas about the universe, like the idea of karma that dictates that people get what they deserve, if not right away, then eventually.
The materialistic individuals are more focused on the tangible world around them. They are interested in concrete factors and situations that can be modified around them. A materialist is concerned with the environment and especially with the things they can see and can use to take action.
A materialist might be less concerned with aspects such as thoughts or ideas and instead focus on taking concrete steps towards changing their situation. They seek causes in the world around them and usually center actionable solutions that can have a direct impact in the world.
There is no right or wrong way to be. You might identify yourself more with the idealists if you are more interested in the ideas and theories behind a situation.
An idealist might put more weight on what goes on in the spiritual world and an individual’s own inner life, for example, their beliefs or their attitudes. They seek explanations in spirituality, psychology, philosophy, and similar things.
A materialist, on the other hand, might look for a concrete chain of events and causes. They are more interested in practical things and solutions that take place in the outside world, not inner changes.
Each approach has its own immediate advantages and disadvantages. An idealist might sometimes struggle to take action in the outside world, while a materialist might neglect their own inner life or fail to understand the motives of other people. This doesn’t mean that you should change your approach, but it might help to recognize some blind spots.
Consider whether you feel you are more prone to an idealistic or materialistic worldview. Then, remember to ask yourself what might be missing from this type of approach. Are you neglecting to consider elements within or without, depending on your usual approach?
An idealist can find it helpful to consider more practical elements as well. What can they see in the real world? Which environmental factors might also be associated with the situation they are facing? Are there actionable steps to be taken?
Materialists, on the other hand, could find it useful to consider inner motivations, beliefs, and attitudes. What emotions or ideas might be contributing to the current situation? How do they feel about their lives and how might other people feel about it? How does the current situation align with their values and spiritual beliefs?
Your own approach might feel more natural, but complementing it in this way can help you view everything more in-depth and in a more comprehensive manner. It might allow you to identify new solutions and keep a more holistic perspective on your situation.
Overall, both materialists and idealists have a useful perspective on the world that they have built over the course of their life. By expanding it to take into account something that they might have missed originally, this perspective becomes even stronger and allow the individual to discover new solutions and broaden their horizons.
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