Materialism and Happiness

Capitalism has been growing for many years, after the industrial revolution as a society, and very prominently in western countries, it began to be engraved into our daily social lives that we will derive our self worth and happiness from our material items. Most people have stopped looking for self-fulfillment and growth; they look to obtain something they think will fill a void. Unfortunately the big companies that own most of the wealth in these countries exploit this social choice. According to CBS news we are exposed to 5,000 advertisements every day, and although we may not consciously remember each ad, we subconsciously are affected by the huge amount of branding we encounter on a daily basis. It creates a constant desire for humans to chase the next thing they want and confuse actual happiness with the pleasure of obtaining something physical is perpetuated by cooperate America, as Graham Peebles notes in his article on the subject of happiness and consumerism, “The thrill of getting what we want – the new car, i-pad, job or dress – quickly dies away and we regress to the previous level of happiness or frustration” So even though you may feel pleasure from earning something material it is merely temporary because these huge corporations are always throwing ads in your face explaining that what you have is not enough. In feeling as though we need to have these material things in order to be content we succumb ourselves to never fully being satisfied.

A study revealed that depression rates have been rising significantly and almost 1/4th of the population in the United States suffers from major depressive disorder. In the 50s this number was significantly lower only about 6 percent of Americans suffered from depression according to Dr. Myrna Weissman of the New York State Psychiatric Institute. With the rise of a saturated economy it has become the norm for people to find the value of their life to be extrinsic. In an article by Rebecca Sato she explains how as humans in the more consumption you find the more apparent unhappiness is in a culture. She states, “In fact, the First World has more depression, more alcoholism and more crime than fifty years ago.” Now everyone is expected to have an Iphone and it is socially imposed on people that you need to have xyz in order to be liked or to be happy yourself when this is clearly not the case according simply to those statistics.

This issue is becoming increasingly important because it is no longer far fetched to say that consumerism is essentially the most popular religion. People worship their possessions and as in Tim Kassers book The High Price Of Materialism, he explains that many humanistic philosophers understand that “material comfort is necessary to provide for basic human needs… but a focus on materialistic values detracts from well being… qualities such as authentic self expression, intimate relationships, and contribution to the community are at the core of mental health.” This expansion of capitalism and globalization has reached the point of altering the way we see ourselves we are less in touch with wanting those human values and there is more emphasis put on what car you dive and what purse you own. Our personal growth and happiness is being stunted by the desire to consume, and the stunting is perpetuated by cooperate America. Although it is virtually impossible to say this would change any time soon widespread awareness is a huge part of understanding and overcoming the major problems it has given rise to and I would like to learn more about the origins of the system that we have now, understanding the way that it managed to become this concrete.


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