Not a single day goes by in the Western world where people don’t spend money on products. The modern lifestyle has made us work for longer hours, just to be able to buy more goods and services that will improve our quality of life. However, who said that material things are synonymous with happiness, and why do we rush into shops willing to empty our pockets as soon as we receive our monthly salary?
Most humans are hedonists. We seek to maximise pleasure and minimise pain as a basic rule of our existence. This, coupled with the widespread notion that the money we earn is there to be spent, continues to fuel our lifelong struggles for more and more possessions. Indeed, it’s believed that the more things we own – from property and cars to designer clothes and accessories – the easier and more satisfactory life is. Whether you suppose that to be true or not, research illustrates that materialism brings about more dissatisfaction than we might initially think.
As a matter of fact, many individuals’ idea of contentment is related to a desire for wanting to have a larger and better-designed house, a newer car, clothes spilling out of our wardrobes, the latest technological gadgets and more money to flaunt in luxurious hotels and restaurants. With recent innovations and continuous improvements in all these areas, our struggle can only be strengthened. It has become second nature to want to spend our hard-earned money only to achieve these initially satisfying materialistic goals.
We cannot deny that updating home decors and wardrobes is often a way to cope with daily stressors. Likewise, materialistic dreams are further boosted by stalkerish advertisements that demonstrate, day in and day out, products that are claimed to make our lives easier. At an alarming rate, companies almost force us to upgrade just to stay on trend. Mobile phones are an obvious case in point. As a result, this obsessive relationship with tangible items seems to be causing an over-consumption that has been found, by countless studies, to lead to a plethora of psychological issues that include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem – particularly when the customer cannot afford the product – and feelings of guilt for over-spending.
According to research, one of the most negative aspects of consumerism is the fact that one can quickly lose control over their spending habits. In other words, instead of reasonably budgeting one’s funds on items that are rather necessary, one may find himself carried away by instincts. Call it an invisible virus that spreads amongst us of which we are not aware or hardly give thought to. This is particularly damaging to those who don’t have the income to afford excessive luxuries.
Do you really need twenty pairs of shoes? Does that pink statue of a Labrador really match with the rest of your interiors? Will you be using that extra shelf of non-descript items gathering cobwebs in your living room? Take a look around. We guarantee that you can spot at least five things that you will probably be throwing out in a few months or years. This leads us to the issue of waste, which is self-explanatory.
Are we strong enough to control our desires and fight against the current? We must acknowledge that we need less than we want. Consumerism makes you spend a lot, and gives back little. Therefore, we challenge you to take minor steps towards de-cluttering your life.
Eat at home more often rather than at restaurants. Make lists of what you need prior to a shopping trip, or spend your savings on experiences such as travels and outdoor activities rather than material goods. Sure, indulging a little every once in a while is necessary, but you can be surprised by how many items you can live without. In a world of increasing superficiality, it’s good practice to promote intrinsic, spiritual and inner goals for happiness. Consequently, the place where you live may become healthier, your life more sustainable, and your mind clearer.
On the image: José Mujica, the ex-President of Uruguay, symbol of anti-capitalism