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How Consumerism Affects Our Well-Being

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Consumerism is an evil ideology that encourages the acquisition of materials goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. This greed is fuelled by insecurity. In Botswana, for instance, since diamonds were discovered in 1966, the country’s relatively strong economy has created a new breed of consumer.

They seem to be gripped by a culture of naked consumerism – plagued with the free spending mentality and the inclination of people to live beyond their means.

Consumerism does not just affect our finances. More importantly, it also affects our well-being. A 2011 study revealed that a materialistic value orientation is linked to lower well-being, but we know little about factors that influence this association, or linked behavioural tendencies, particularly in developing countries, such as India.

Researchers developed a model in which endorsement of materialistic values is linked to buying motives focused on identity projection and emotion regulation, which, in turn, are linked to lower well-being and dysfunctional consumer behaviour.

They tested these hypothesised associations in surveys with 236 younger and older adults in India and the UK, and found that they were consistent with the model, showing few country or generational differences. 

Everyone knows that we live in a culture of consumerism. But few people understand the full extent of the problems it causes or the effects that it has on each of us. This video from Life Squared explores consumerism and its effects on us, and suggests some ways in which we can reduce its impact on our lives, so that we can live the lives we really want.

As what Richard Docwra, Director of Life Squared explains that excessive consumption leads to a more stressful life as well as its environmental impact. It is time to reconsider our spending habits, rediscover thoughtfulness and intention in our purchases, and remind ourselves that happiness is not on sale at the department store.

As it becomes evident that technology alone is unlikely to fully counteract the ecological impacts of consumer society, the debate increasingly focuses on a need to shift beyond the consumerist economy and culture.

Buying more is not the solution. This is the dreadful mistake we are making: allowing ourselves to believe that acquiring more enhances our well-being. We were made for greater pursuits than material possessions. 

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg.


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