Economics plays a large role in what we can afford. We all can agree that we have been raised on the assumption that a consumption-driven acquisition is how we attain success, respect and happiness. We are working harder and longer to sustain this material model. The average home has the following: lounges, beds, tables—occasional, side and dining—rugs, TVs—at least two—laptops, desktops, printers, fridges—kitchen and bar—washer, dryer, blender, coffee machine, audiovisual equipment—sound bars, speakers, etc.—books, magazines, knick-knacks, souvenirs, framed photos, artwork, desks, shelves, cabinets, cushions, mirrors and lamps. This is what we can see. So how about what we may not see, such as our linens, medicines, utensils, appliances, toys, camping gear, hobby items—sewing, scrapbooking—bikes, gym equipment, DVDs, CDs, records—maybe you still have these—clothes—summer/winter/special occasion—make-up, hair products, tools, plant pots, gaming consoles, family treasures and your baby’s first shoes … this list could go on and on. Start to open drawers in your house and the list could fill this book!
Subsequently, we all had to work to pay for these fairly standard necessary items BUT statistically we are less happy than previous generations. In our modern age of excess, money cannot buy us love and ‘things’ are not making us happy. Tim Kasser, a psychology professor from Knox college in the US, produced a study indicating that strong materialistic values are in fact undermining our wellbeing, our life satisfaction and causing a reduction in our overall happiness. The physical afflictions associated with these states of being include depression, anxiety, and narcissistic and antisocial behaviours. What is ironic is that these feelings lead us to consuming more things to make us feel better.
According to an article in The Telegraph in 2017, Australia ranked the tenth happiest country in the world. A study conducted by the Warwick University found that happiness in the UK and US peaked in 1957. During this year it was recorded that only one in five households had a washing machine, one in twenty owned a refrigerator and only nine percent of households had a black-and-white television. Essentially, life without our modern conveniences, appliances and services of today was tougher … but happier. We have more money and more possessions than we did 60 years ago but we are no happier.
A report in 2004 by the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World found that once our essential needs are met, having basic material necessities will add value and increase our comfort levels for overall life satisfaction. However, the incremental increase in our happiness declines with the more things we accumulate. The more we have the less happy we are. To afford and maintain all these things in our lives we are working more and thus spending less time with family, friends and social groups. Economics aside, looking at the real cost of ownership bestowed on us once we bring these items into our lives, we are still paying out. Ancient cultures believed that every item has an energy and that this energy fills our homes and our minds with its purpose. If we do not need or no longer want these items then this energy in caring for them may cause an imbalance and take our attention away from what is really important in our lives.The maintenance of all our objects requires us to find, clean and store all these items which all adds to extra demands upon our modern lives.