Response to the Movie “I Am” [Video]


If you’re like me, after watching the documentary I Am, produced by Tom Shadyac (director of such movies as Bruce Almighty and The Nutty Professor), you may have been left wondering, “Now what? Do I have to sell my home and my car like Tom did, in order to break the spell of materialism and money and transform into a life of meaning?

Do we need to renounce all our worldly possessions and move to an ashram to break the spell society has thrust upon us?

Here’s the conclusion I came to. I’d love to hear your thoughts after you watch the video. Please post a comment and share!


If you haven’t yet seen I Am, and would like to, click here.


About Debbie

After spending 32 years in marketing, Debbie now spends her time blogging, teaching online courses, doing volunteer pet therapy, and encouraging others to follow a more inspired path through life.

5 comments on “Response to the Movie “I Am” [Video]

  1. Pingback: Happy

  2. What I gathered from the documentary was not a recommendation for the world to embrace asceticism, but for us to question and realign our values.

    The point of selling whatever excess you have, liquidating it into money, and then giving that money to those who are deeply impoverished and in need of basic necessities isn’t to focus on what YOU need to be happy, it’s to CHANGE your focus from yourself to helping others as much as posible (without self-sacrifice to the point of harming yourself or loved ones).

    We all need shelter, we all need food and clothes and security. Giving these up doesn’t help anyone!

    The point is to stop focusing on your own quest for happiness, and to realize that the truth path to happiness is in serving our global community as much as we possibly can.

    In your response you speak of balance, and of course, balance is always the answer. However, balance has become a bit of a cop-out, if you will, as it really doesn’t set any applicable goals or limitations. Many people may interpret balance in regards to materialism as materialism in moderation. It’s okay if I spend a bunch of money on these completely unnecessary comforts, as long as I go to the soup kitchen on Sunday.

    The reason that balance is always the answer is because of the nature of virtues and vices, discussed at length by many philosophers, including Plato. Any quality, when out of balance is a vice, while if that quality is in balance, it is a virtue.

    Ex. A spectrum exists of the qualities: cowardice, cautiousness, bravery, rashness. If one is overly cautious to the point that this inhibits actions that are necessary for good, the virtue of cautiousness becomes the vice of cowardice. On the other hand, if one is overly brave to the point that one acts without any caution whatsoever, the virtue of bravery becomes the vice of rashness. The balance, and therefore the virtue, is to be brave yet cautious.

    I would liken this to my own view of the virtues of frugality and generosity. As far as I know, no philosopher has spoken of this specific spectrum of virtues and vices, and therefore, considering this is my own creation, the words I use to describe the virtues and vices may not be as precise as they should be. Frugality and generosity are both virtues, and when one is in the perfect balance, they ensure that they take no more than what they need, and if there is any excess that they possess, freely give it to someone who needs it. When frugality gets to the point that one is so focused on the accumulation of resources that they forsake the needs of others and lose generosity, this virtue becomes the vice Greed. On the other hand, when generosity gets to the point that one gives away what one needs for ones own well-being, this viture becomes the vice of self-sacrifice.

    To summarize my point, I agree that balance is key, but the balance that matters is the one between caring for the self and caring for others. When one lives in a state where they can take care of their own material needs, and then focuses all their remaining energy on taking care of the needs of others, they will know happiness.

  3. I have watched the movie . I agree. The heart is the control center. But what he was saying about his money and not being happy, well…I guess it could be very true . But money can change into whatever is of equal value, even life has a price.
    I need more money. However I DO NOT need more stuff or valuable cars or homes. I want to take care of my health, body, pain, things that make my everyday life suck. I think greed has almost killed all love. Esp. to helping any stranger for sure.
    Greed says If you don’t have money then greed Co. don’t care, go away! Maybe go here.. if you qualify, they might help, I don’t think they treat your problem though, sorry..other wise leave, not my problem.
    Try to show love to someone you don’t know. Share your heart.

  4. I whole heartedly agree the message of the movie is “for us to question and realign our values.” I think you have to look past the fact that the filmmaker had to sell most all his possessions to accomplish that. Not all of us need to go to that extreme. I also agree the important balance is between keeping and sharing… taking care of ourselves and others.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!


  5. You are right, we do need money. We live in a world that requires it. But I love your point about recognizing that we don’t necessarily need more stuff. Yet that is where we have been led astray by so much of what we see in the world today… our society seems so enamored with those who have achieved fame and fortune. Advertising constantly reminds us we need “things” to be happy, feel successful, or to feel accomplished and worthy… NOT! I talk a lot about this in my book. It is time for a shift. And thankfully, movies like this are helping to spread that message.

    Thanks for sharing and encouraging more people to share their heart. Imagine how different our world would be if more people did!

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