It's insidious and destructive, but there are some things you can do to develop a healthier relationship with material things.
De-programming your mind<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTgxNDI5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyOTQ0NzQxNn0.P94Dsn6w_tcDmXvLdVN9BVR59Ghcc5_HUHCpDFYRKHg/img.jpg?width=980" id="7a48d" width="1440" height="960" data-rm-shortcode-id="25d42b2acc8aef4dc816c6fde6adf558" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Joshue Earle/Unsplash<p><span style="background-color: initial;"><a href="https://www.inc.com/author/jessica-stillman" target="_blank">Jessica Stillman</a></span>, writing for <a href="https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/3-tips-to-tame-your-materialism-and-be-happier.html" target="_blank">Inc.com</a>, suggests three steps to take to shift your perspective back to sanity as you wend your way through a materialist world.</p><p><strong>1. Get mindful about advertising</strong></p><p>Face it: You're surrounded. On TV, in apps, on web pages, on the streets, it's everywhere. People want you to buy their products. You may be able to minimize the impact of this 360-degree brainwashing by taking conscious note of your exposure to it. Stillman suggests that you can gain a better appreciation of its insidious effect—and build up resistance—by listing every ad to which you're exposed for four days. Spoiler alert: It's going to be a lot of writing and a jaw-dropper.</p><p><strong>2. Inventory your actual values</strong></p><p>Take a time-out to thoughtfully write out all the things you really consider important, such as loved ones, feeling healthy, and so on. Don't be disappointed if the list seems trite. These things are often cited as having value because they really do. Want to be happier? Consider the acquisition of these things your new goal.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>"Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city." — George Burns</em></p><p>Take a moment to explore whether your behavior lines up with these things, and consider how it might.</p><p><strong>3. Track your spending</strong></p><p>No, we're not talking about budgeting yourself so much as having a look at where your money is going. Is it being spent on helping you attain your real goals? Or are you buying things to impress others or keep up with what others around you may have so you don't feel like a loser?</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>"Every time I feel lame, I'm looking up." — </em><a href="https://youtu.be/KIYiGA_rIls" target="_blank"><em>Sheryl Crow</em></a></p>
This is how you’re being manipulated<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTgxNDMxMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDc5NTU0OX0.m3aGSEnnuk3f4RqB3dfYsOQuDzQNbwjp6vcu_LLnyVU/img.jpg?width=980" id="4e03c" width="1440" height="960" data-rm-shortcode-id="388f7b4cd65b2be968ebe7df63a0101b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: fran_kie/Adobe Stock<p>Leo Babauta <a href="https://zenhabits.net/a-guide-to-escaping-materialism-and-finding-happiness/" target="_blank">digs down a bit deeper</a> into the whole brainwashing thing.</p><p>He recommends stepping away from activities in which many of us engage by default and which keep us up to our eyeballs in ads. He warns about over-consumption of TV, the news, internet blogs, magazines as opposed to books, frequent trips to the mall or superstores, and keeping watch on the buying impulses they trigger.</p><p>Babauta suggests a 30-day test you can use to identify the things you might not really need. Ask yourself, "If I had to wait 30 days to buy this, would I still want it?" He also proposes the consideration of buying things used — is it the "shiny new" aspect you covet, or the thing itself?</p><p>Finally, there's a Zen beauty in the simpler, de-cluttered home you can get by getting rid of possessions that don't give you joy, as <a href="https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/marie-kondo" target="_blank">Marie Kondo</a> says. Things you really don't care about serve as examples that can stay your hand when you're considering buying more, well, junk in the cosmic scheme of things.</p>
Refocus your principles<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTgxNDMxNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MDk1ODIwNX0.sHGhg-JiD0HT_VeUFn5DaXVPBWcH2oKApzOpjP08j8U/img.jpg?width=980" id="37c73" width="1440" height="1152" data-rm-shortcode-id="d5733d804d3c6c62cbb1ae70075f3ff3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Faye Cornish/Unsplash<p>Author <a href="https://www.scotthyoung.com" target="_blank">Scott H. Young</a> has compiled a list of <a href="https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2007/08/15/14-tips-for-a-less-materialistic-livestyle/" target="_blank">14 concepts and activities</a> you should consider as you look to overcome materialism in your life. (Check out the original article for further details.)</p><ol><li><em>You aren't the things1 you own</em> — Your value is in who you are and what you do, not what stuff you've amassed.</li><li><em>Relationships are about doing, not having</em> — Being in a relationship is a state of being. You haven't acquired, nor do you own, the other person.</li><li><em>Create a system of goals and challenges</em> — Since materialism steps in when there's a void to fill, find yourself some worthwhile goals to occupy that empty space.</li><li><em>Serve</em> — Want to feel good about yourself? There's no better way than doing something good for someone else. It's the best selfish secret there is.</li><li><em>Trash it </em>— We've mentioned the value in decluttering above. Clear away crap you don't care about.</li><li><em>See wealth as a challenge not a result</em> — As Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert told <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/conditions/11/10/happiness.overview/" target="_blank">CNN</a> in 2006, research indicates, "By and large, money buys happiness only for those who lack the basic needs. Once you pass an income of $50,000, more money doesn't buy much more happiness." (The figure's likely a bit higher in 2021.)</li><li><em>Experience over objects</em> — These's nothing more valuable than the precious time that keeps whizzing by. Are you spending this rarest of possessions well?</li><li><em>Build intangible assets</em> — It makes a lot more sense to invest in becoming a smarter, better person than focusing on material goods.</li><li><em>Use money to free, not chain, yourself </em>— Once you've got enough to meet your true needs, you're done. Becoming obsessed with getting more and more money is nothing more than a trap that keeps you from more valuable pursuits.</li><li><em>Go basic</em> — If you live a bit less extravagantly, you'll buy yourself slack to mentally relax. Simpler <em>can</em> be easier, you know.</li><li><em>Avoid the status game</em> — Cultivate a personal community of people from a variety of economic brackets so you're not so tempted to compare.</li><li>Judge yourself by your ethics and your understanding — If you need to judge yourself at all, consider the kind of person you are, and how well you're achieving your ethical goals. It's not about what the world thinks of you: It's what <em>you</em> know about yourself.</li><li><em>Let go</em> — Yes, you live in a material world, but you also live in a spiritual one, regardless of whether or not you're the religious type. Guess which one makes you happier.</li><li><em>You can't take it with you</em> — When you're tossing out stuff, make sure to lose the "He who has the most stuff when he dies wins" t-shirt. It's hard to imagine that in your last moments you'll be thinking about that flatscreen and not the experiences you've had and the people you've loved and who've made you feel loved.</li></ol>
Do it for your mental health<p>Scientific American <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-let-go-of-materialism/" target="_blank">reports</a> on the largest study ever on the impact or rampant materialism on individuals. It found that shifting one's focus away from money and things and toward intrinsic goals leads to greater contentment. One of its authors, psychology professor <a href="https://www.knox.edu/academics/faculty/kasser-tim" target="_blank">Tim Kasser</a>, explains, "Intrinsic goals tend to be ones that promote greater well-being and act as a kind of 'antidote' to materialistic values."</p><p>If you're reading this, you're probably already thinking about materialism in your life. You're not alone in being concerned, and you may be able to find other people you know with whom you can work make a change in your lives. "It is important to find some like-minded folks who want to join you in shifting away from materialism," <a href="https://sci-hub.se/10.1038/scientificamericanmind0714-17c" target="_blank">says Kasser</a>. "They are out there, I promise."</p>
A study of 1.6 million people ties high incomes with more positive emotions and fewer negative ones, but only towards the self.
- A review of data from 1.6 million people shows that higher incomes relate to more positive feelings about the self.
- Feelings towards others were not affected by higher incomes.
- The findings have implications for those hoping to improve society by raising incomes alone.
Perhaps there is a reason why Scrooge didn't start off caring about other people.<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rR5gViXEOxo" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> While people consistently reported increasingly positive self-regarding emotions as their incomes rose, their stances towards other people didn't change much. </p><p>Other-regarding emotions, which can refer to specific people, groups of people, or humankind in general, can include familiar feelings like gratitude, love, compassion, or anger. To the authors' surprise, the data they reviewed showed little to no relationship between increasing incomes and positive or negative other-regarding emotions. As Dr. Tong <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210304100351.htm" target="_blank">explained</a>: </p><p>"Having more money doesn't necessarily make a person more compassionate and grateful, and greater wealth may not contribute to building a more caring and tolerant society."</p><p>While some of the studies reviewed suggested a positive relationship between income and positive other-regarding emotions, the mixed results mean that no association can be confirmed.</p>
What are the implications of this?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UEsK7hpIkVI" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Dr. Tong summarized the findings' implications for <a href="https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2021/03/higher-income-pride-confidence" target="_blank">policymakers</a>:</p><p> "Policies aimed at raising the income of the average person and boosting the economy may contribute to emotional well-being for individuals. However, it may not necessarily contribute to emotional experiences that are important for communal harmony." </p><p>On a more personal level, these findings remind us that money isn't everything but that it is something. Dr. Tong remarked:</p><p> "The effects of income on our emotional well-being should not be underestimated. Having more money can inspire confidence and determination while earning less is associated with gloom and anxiety."</p><p>The parts of the study focusing on self-control as a mediator also tied to other studies suggesting that autonomy is good for people.</p><p>A recent study on the matriarchal culture of the <a href="https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/matriarchy-mosuo-health" target="_blank">Mosuo people</a> shows that the women living in villages where they weld power over their own lives are healthier than other Mosuo women living in patriarchal villages. While the study didn't suggest that no health issues existed in these societies, it did note improvements in comparison to others. </p><p>Like any other study, this one was not perfect, and there are reasons you should take these findings with a little salt.</p><p>This study was correlational and cannot prove causation. It could be the case that some unknown factor connects higher incomes with these positive emotions, for example. Further studies will be needed to demonstrate causation. Additionally, while the effect was noteworthy and consistent in countries on every continent and of all economic development levels, the effect was not massive. The findings do not suggest that higher income levels are a silver bullet effective against all negative self-regard. </p><p>Even with those caveats, this study's findings are an important improvement on the previous literature on this subject. While the connection between income and self-regard is limited, it is significant enough to suggest that millions of people's emotional states can be improved by focusing on their finances, even if that won't be enough to build a caring society for them to live in.</p><p> Of course, at that point, they might be well off and self-assured enough not to mind as much, but that's another problem.</p>
In her book The Art of Rest, one researcher conducted a thorough analysis of the top 10 activities we find most restful.
Even though our bodies and minds are begging for a break, modern culture has turned rest into a sin. So how can we catch a breath?
A new study casts doubt on previous research showing that emotional well-being plateaus at an income of $75,000 per year.
- A new study examined how income affects experienced and evaluative well-being, which are two measures researchers commonly use to evaluate happiness.
- The results showed that both evaluative and experienced well-being tend to increase alongside income.
- Still, the results don't suggest you should assign more importance to money, or tie your ideas of personal success to it.
Income and well-being<p>Published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/118/4/e2016976118#sec-1" target="_blank" style="">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, the study surveyed 33,391 employed U.S. adults ages 18 to 65. As in past studies, the participants answered questions about income and life satisfaction. But the study offered new insights because Killingsworth created a <a href="https://www.trackyourhappiness.org/" target="_blank">smartphone app</a> that asked participants the question "How do you feel right now?" at random points throughout the day.</p><p>This captured the participants' experienced well-being, which is a measure of happiness in the moment. Another way that researchers measure happiness is through evaluative well-being, which examines the "<a href="https://globalizationandhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12992-017-0290-0#:~:text=Evaluative%20well%2Dbeing%20captures%20the,day%20%5B3%2C%204%5D." target="_blank">global evaluation</a>" people make of their lives, including general life satisfaction. The new study measured both experienced and evaluative well-being.</p>
Credit: Killingsworth / PNAS<p>Unlike the 2010 study, the new research found that neither evaluative nor experienced well-being plateaued at the $75,000 income level. In fact, the results showed that both measures of well-being rose along with logarithmic income (which differs from raw income).</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This means that two households earning $20,000 and $60,000, respectively, would be expected to exhibit the same difference in well-being as two households earning $60,000 and $180,000, respectively," Killingsworth wrote. "The logarithmic relationship implies that marginal dollars do matter less the more one earns, while proportional differences in income have a constant association with well-being regardless of income."</p>
Why does money matter?<p>The study couldn't offer any conclusive explanations for the money-happiness correlation, but Killingsworth suggested a few possibilities.<br></p><p>One is that extra money helps people reduce suffering and increase enjoyment. Another explanation centers on life control: Responses to the question "To what extent do you feel in control of your life?" accounted for 74 percent of the association between income and experienced well-being. Finally, financial insecurities, measured by participants reporting their difficulty in paying bills, accounted for 38 percent of the income-happiness association.</p><p>But while income may affect well-being more than previously thought, the new findings don't suggest you should assign more importance to money, or tie your ideas of personal success to income.</p><p>After all, "the more people equated money and success, the lower their experienced well-being was on average (<em>P</em> < 0.00001), and there did not appear to be any income level at which equating money and success was associated with greater experienced well-being," Killingsworth wrote.</p>
We look back at a year ravaged by a global pandemic, economic downturn, political turmoil and the ever-worsening climate crisis.
Billions are at risk of missing out on the digital leap forward, as growing disparities challenge the social fabric.
Image: Global Risks Report 2021<h3>Widespread effects</h3><p>"The immediate human and economic costs of COVID-19 are severe," the report says. "They threaten to scale back years of progress on reducing global poverty and inequality and further damage social cohesion and global cooperation."</p><p>For those reasons, the pandemic demonstrates why infectious diseases hits the top of the impact list. Not only has COVID-19 led to widespread loss of life, it is holding back economic development in some of the poorest parts of the world, while amplifying wealth inequalities across the globe.</p><p>At the same time, there are concerns the fight against the pandemic is taking resources away from other critical health challenges - including a <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/charts-covid19-malnutrition-educaion-mental-health-children-world/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">disruption to measles vaccination programmes</a>.</p>