We are in consumer overload especially at this time of year. Compared with the Americans of 50 years ago, we eat out more, own twice as many cars, have bigger houses and own other devices that weren’t even around. PC’s, microwaves, SUVs and all sorts of wireless devices. It is difficult to measure health and happiness but scientific research suggests we’re no more content than 50 years ago in fact even less so.
Last year, Americans, who are only 5% of the world’s population, used nearly a third of earth’s resources while producing about half of its hazardous waste. Add American; addiction, debt, overwhelm, fear, stress, lack of community, the gulf between rich and poor, and the death of the American Dream all of which make us less healthy.
Increased consumerism comes at a steep price research shows. Are you incurring debt and working longer hours to pay for the high-consumption lifestyle, and consequently spending less time with family, friends, and community organizations? Click To TweetThis fact leads to pain. Perhaps it can be as simple as more body tension with less time to relax or be with the people you love. Or maybe it is that three jobs are needed where our grandparents only needed one. Overwhelm is a sure fire way to be in pain.
In the 90’s Affluenza was coined as a malady, defined the need for more and more stuff. But does all this stuff make us any happier or less fatigued? Research demonstrates that materialistic values may stem from early insecurities and are linked to lower life satisfaction. Therefore, accruing more wealth does not necessarily empowered selfhealing. Click To Tweet
For the TV show affluenza, a PBS group traveled across the country to show people who were working and shopping less, spending more time with friends and family, volunteering in their communities, and enjoying their lives more. People were and are opting out of the consumerism for simplicity, are you?.
“Compared with their grandparents, today’s young adults have grown up with much more affluence, slightly less happiness and much greater risk of depression and assorted social pathology,” commented psychologist David G. Myers, Ph.D., ”These findings emerge at a time when the consumer culture has reached a fever pitch”
There are lots of links being found in regards to materialism, for example in the Journal of Consumer Research (Vol. 23, No. 4) a study by Aric Rindfleisch, PhD, found that young people whose parents were undergoing or had undergone divorce or separation were more prone to developing materialistic values later in life than those from intact homes and they experience more pain.
Why are materialists unhappy? As with all things psychological, the relationship between our mental state and materialism is complex. Does materialism stoke unhappiness, unhappiness fuels materialism, or both?
Researcher Diener suggests several factors to explain the toll of the pursuit of wealth. A strong consumerist bent, which William Wordsworth in 1807 called “getting and spending” can promote unhappiness because it takes time away from the things that can nurture happiness, including relationships with family and friends, research shows.
“It’s not absolutely necessary that chasing after material wealth will interfere with your social life,” Diener says. “But it can, and if it does, it probably has a net negative payoff in terms of life satisfaction and well-being.” Unhappiness leads to pain.
There is a close link between consumerism and obesity ... Click To Tweetresearch shows. As consumerism implies using as much as we can, rather than as much as we need. Also, diets of highly processed food and a sedentary lifestyle of reliance on automobiles help lead to obesity. Over-consuming leads to obesity, leads to further cultural and social problems. In short, a poor diet leads to pain.
And the list of reasons for pain, go on. Possible solutions include:
Prioritize what is important when we are in pain.
Learn what’s most important and focus on that.
Evaluate time spent doing each task and add in rest periods.
Simplify tasks at work and home and ask for help.
Evaluate commitments and learn to say no.
Finally limit buying, spending, consumption including of media.
Austin SB1, Rich M. Consumerism: its impact on the health of adolescents.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11602442
Kasser. Tim “The High Price of Materialism” (MIT Press, 2002)
Myers, David G. “The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty” (Yale University Press, 2000).