Image Courtesy of Scott Chan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net What is wrong? Why are people working so hard to buy so many things they don't really need?
Unfortunately, as humans in the western world we have also been taught to measure success from how much money we have, and how many things we have compared to our friends and neighbours. If you’re thinking “well, we don’t try and keep up with the Jones’.” Think for a minute. If you have a teenager, what was the last thing you purchased for them, and why did they want it? Most of the time it’s because they need what everyone else has so they belong. I recently purchased school uniforms for my kids for hundreds and hundreds of dollars at the school uniform shop so they didn't stand out and blended in. I wondered had my values gone slightly off the rails when I drum into them every other day to “be an individual, and dance to the beat of your own drum son!” Yeah right mum!
The sad part is to maintain this perceived sense of belonging, pleasure and happiness we need to keep consuming, which means we need to work harder and longer, and spend more time away from our families and friends; and usually in jobs we don’t really enjoy. I’m lucky enough to be in a job I do enjoy, but I do wonder sometimes how I will ever climb out of this trap of working, spending, debt, working, spending, and debt. Sound familiar?
This endless cycle of debt is apparently what’s measured as success or otherwise, known as the great Australian dream (the mortgage). This is where I really start to freak out because if what I have been told that all my life about success isn’t true. Then what is? Can we ever go back to being happy with the basics in life just like the Sullivan's were in the 1940’s?
Probably what worries me most is what it’s doing to us as human beings when people are trampled to death in Boxing Day sales, Black Friday sales and click frenzy frenzies. There is seriously something that has gone wrong with our world.