The Grip Of Materialism
- Every day Americans are bombarded with hundreds of messages suggesting that ‘the good life’ is attainable through ‘the goods life,’ by making lots of money and spending it on products that claim to make us happy, loved and esteemed.
- On the news shows we hear a near constant refrain from economists and politicians about the importance of consumer spending and economic growth.
- Around 150 billion dollars are spent most years to embed consumer messages in every conceivable space.
- Commercialization and consumerism also reach deeper, warming their way into people’s psyches and encouraging them to organize their lives around higher salaries and owning more stuff.”
The Problem Of Materialism
- Research consistently shows that the more that people value materialistic aspirations and goals, the lower their happiness and life satisfaction, and the fewer pleasant emotions they experience day to day.
- Depression, anxiety and substance abuse also tend to be higher among the people who value the aims encouraged by consumer society.”
The Stronger The Grip Of Materialism, The Lower The Care For Others And Nature
- Scientists have found that materialistic values and pro-social values are like a see-saw; as materialistic values go up, pro-social values tend to go down. This helps explain why people act in less empathic, generous and cooperative ways when money is on their minds.
- When people are under the sway of materialism, they also focus less on caring for the earth. The same type of see-saw is at work here: as materialistic values go up, concern for nature tends to go down. Studies show that when people endorse money, image and status, they’re less likely to engage in ecologically beneficial activities like riding bikes, recycling, and re-using things in new ways.”
The Hope For Happiness = A Shift From Materialistic Values To Intrinsic Values
- If we hope to have a happier, most socially just, and more sustainable world, then we need to develop ways to diminish materialistic values in our personal lives and in society … and promote intrinsic values for growing as a person, being close to one’s family and friends and improving the broader world.
- The grip and consumerism and commercialism have on our world can seem inescapable, and there are certainly powerful forces that push materialistic values on us, but by making changes in our personal lives and by working for broader societal changes, we can break the hold of materialism and be freer to live our intrinsic values. That, in turn, would help us to take important steps to our greater personal well-being, a more humane society, and a more sustainable world.”
What Are Intrinsic Values To You?
In other words, what do you consider as being the most important values for you and for society?
Also, if you were given the task to plan how society as a whole would come to treat intrinsic values with more importance than materialistic values, what would you include in that plan?
Quotes in this post were taken from the above video “The High Price of Materialism” by the Center for a New American Dream, which are the words of psychologist Tim Kasser.