December 13, 2011

Money, Money, Money

I thought as we promenade head-on into the holidays I would share this neat clip that I found on Consciously Frugal about the new American dream. It's beautifully illustrated, which is helpful for any of you attention deficit, visual learners, like myself.

Every day we are bombarded with gazillions of messages telling us that the good life is attainable by making lots of money and spending it on things that claim to make us feel happy, loved, and good about ourselves...

Unfortunately this can come at a high price for our well being, as well as for the earth's.

As the clip explains, research consistently shows that the more materialistic people are the lower their happiness is. Strong materialistic values also effect our social relationships and effect other people's well being. As materialistic values go up, social values tend to go down. When people have money on their minds they are less likely to be generous, cooperative, and care about the environment.

We tend to focus more on material things when we feel insecure.

Luckily, we can begin to diminish the power of  materialism by doing a few simple things:

  • The next time we have a blow to our self esteem, we can circumvent going out and being a consumer by stopping to enjoy people, nature, or being creative instead. A good question to ask ourselves is "Do I really need this, or do I just want it?"
  • The more that people are exposed to the media the more they prioritize materialistic values. It's helpful to hit the mute button when ads come on TV.
  • It's also helpful to pay more attention to intrinsic values such as growing as a person, being close to people, finding meaningful work, volunteering, and improving the world. As intrinsic values go up, materialistic values go down.

So this holiday season think about giving a gift that doesn't cost a thing. Imagine that. Perhaps it's simply being 100% agreeable for an entire day. Imagine that! Maybe it's running errands for an elderly neighbor or checking in on a friend who is lonely. Maybe it's the gift of sex (did I just say that?), or being the designated driver on New Year's Eve. 

Or maybe it's one of these 17 other ideas in this little slide show, that don't cost a cent :-)

Photo by David Castillo Dominici.