Many of us are voluntarily handing over our freedom, time and persona every day in the exchange for objects and distractions. Let us discuss consumerism and human happiness.
Modern consumerism summed up in a single image. The working class in full defensive formation against their fellow man to protect their cheap flat-screen TV from incoming aggressors. The Spartans would be proud. So, why do I lead this article with a scene of Black Friday chaos at the local Asda? Today, I’m going to discuss consumerism and the direct impact it often has on our freedom. This is not a men’s self-help guide. This is simply an open discussion for self-reflection and perspective. Grab yourself a coffee, sit back and let's do this.
Materialism, the excessive desire to acquire and consume material goods. Who cares? Why worry about the purchasing behaviour of others. Why does it actually matter if people spend their hard-earned cash on luxury watches and extravagant kitchen renovations? If it makes them happy…
And this happiness is what I wish to talk about. A subjective happiness that is often at the cost of individual freedom.
Happiness through consumerism is undoubtedly influenced by many external factors that do an outstanding job at convincing us all that materialism is the true path to happiness. Think about it, all those brightly illuminated advertising boards continuously telling us how our problems in life can be immediately fixed by luxury purchases. The Century of the Self is an excellent documentary that covers this very issue and I highly recommend it to anybody who wishes to explore the psychological techniques used on the human mind with public relations and advertising.
Many studies and statistics back up the simple fact that income growth has very little impact on happiness. The chart to follow shows a survey conducted within the United States from 1972 to 2008. Real income per capita almost doubled over the period, while average happiness—as reported by respondents to the General Social Survey, changed very little.
Thankfully not all men are absorbed by material quests and constant lust of luxuries. But as social creatures, many will build their sense of self-worth and happiness on a real-time comparison with others. How easy it is to see how this mindset can lead to utter dissatisfaction when your priorities are firmly focused on superficial shiny things, while you continuously compare your day-to-day behind the scenes to everybody’s highlight reels.
This type of self-worth commonly leads many into the most stressful segments of the rat-race. How many of those purchases made over the previous 5 years brought you sustained happiness? Was that fancy wine bottle holder from Ikea that cost you 6 hours of your working time truly worth it? Our lives are finite and we often give much of it away without little thought to chase a materialistic lifestyle. We have one shot at this life, and what a shame it would be to spend most of it unhappy as we slave away in jobs we don't enjoy, so our t-shirts can have a little horsemen playing polo on them.
The aforementioned paragraph is not a decree for living out the remainder of your days in the wild. But a switch in focus from materialistic goals to a pursuit of financial independence will be an excellent start for many. Instead of dropping an extra £8,000 on a new car, perhaps focus your money into intelligent investments or a financial endeavour which aims to make your money work for you in the long term, enabling you to more time to travel the world and hanging with your friends & family. Money doesn’t have to be such a controlling influence in your life and a switch in focus might be all that is needed.
Many of us are voluntarily handing over our freedom, time and persona every day in the exchange for objects and distractions that paralyse our very ability to grow and live our lives how we truly would like to if we had the chance. This subject is undoubtedly unique for each and every person based on their own mindset and individual circumstances. Thus, the solution will often come down to personal reflection and examination.
The founder of Capable Men.
Currently operating personal projects while he simultaneously attempts to develop the Capable Men platform. John served five years in the British army, with a tour of duty in Afghanistan before eventually departing the forces to begin a career in the private security sector.
John attended several private protection courses dealing with security strategy, close-quarters combat training, firearms and advanced driving. This new profession took him worldwide Including the protection of government assets in South America, VIP tasks on the Côte d'Azur and security work within the French Alps.
His interests include global affairs, philosophy, hiking, sports and fitness.