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Is ‘affluenza’ eroding our happiness?

Affluenza is a term coined to describe the negative side effects of wealth – lack of motivation or purpose, emphasis on material things, and a sense of isolation.

There’s increasing evidence from psychologists for example that affluent children can be troubled, reckless and self-destructive – by growing up with everything available to them, they struggle to find meaning and create boundaries because they are rarely denied what they want or told no.

While this is an extreme example, it’s not hard to see the concept of ‘affluenza’ at work in contemporary society.

There is a huge emphasis on material things and more and more we use this as a way to pursue happiness and indicate our worth and status in our communities.

It wasn’t always commonplace to purchase a new wardrobe each season to keep up with changing trends, or to replace everyday items like mobile phones, televisions and cars before they were broken.

As a society, we’re now regularly shopping for things we don’t need – buying bigger homes to hold our posessions and running up debt on items that wouldn’t be considered necessities.

At Christmas, society’s obsession with material things is very clear – what started as a religious holiday today is an expensive ritual where we decorate our homes, exchange gifts, host expensive gatherings and attend events where we need new outfits to look the part.

But is all this focus on material things actually adding to our happiness?

Or is it in fact having the opposite effect – our addiction to buying things means we fail to notice what’s truly important in life. And those are things that can’t be bought: family, friendships, love and good health.

Is affluenza eroding our happiness?

111 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Yes No

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Munsterlander
6th Dec 2017
1
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We think we are richer now because we have so much. Wrong. We are poorer as we are moving spiritually away from nature and the rest of the worlds creatures.
NorfolkBroad
24th Nov 2017
7
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One of the (few) advantages of being old is that I remember the days when nobody but the very few had a lot of anything and the words 'my rights' weren't uppermost in our minds. We knew if we wanted something we had to first have a job to earn money, then save from that money, and finally have the patience to wait until we could afford to buy it. We knew that Christmas wasn't about having everything we wanted; but was about once a year getting a new toy, book or puzzle. We were taught by parents that if you couldn't afford it you went without. Unfortunately today with so much being given for 'free' - downloading music instead of having to buy it for example - youngsters feel they shouldn't have to wait for anything. And don't even get me started on how they turn their noses up at the very thought of something 'second hand'!
chelseabird
24th Nov 2017
9
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People today have a sense of entitlement, they feel they should have everything! They have no idea of the concept of working for those things, they want them here right now so they rack up huge credit bills ensuring they get those "must haves". There is no saving up to pay for things in full just a must have culture and as a parent of a teen I am not sure how these kids have become so entitled.
Kobyhodge
24th Nov 2017
7
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I'm not sure that I agree with Lionel when he says a want becomes a need, as more often than not it is not a need, just a desire to keep up with others. Thankfully I have jumped off than bandwagon and live very comfortably and happily on my state pension. If I need something I look for used items or where I can recycle and make. Greed and avarice are destroying society, how many people actually need large 4 x 4 off road vehicles? They have become a status symbol frequently purchased on credit, we are living in a world that is rapidly becoming alien to me, hopefully if our self centered politicians can get their act together there will be a small chance that England can return to the wonderful place it once was, when people felt secure and where family and friendships were more important than wealth and status.
scandiman
23rd Nov 2017
8
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Every morning, within five minutes of switching the radio on, I am bombarded by adverts. I use the Internet and can’t get away from it. Buying the latest thing won’t make my life any better. I think we’ve become an unhappy lot, forever pursuing the latest thing.
Lionel
23rd Nov 2017
5
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You're quite right. Our society, like its American counterpart, feeds off greed and avarice. A want becomes a need, a must have, and one's life won't be perfect until one has that must have. Next week the latest update to that must have is released and we cannot be happy until ... That's more hardware into landfill.

Just as Orwell wrote ... consume, consume, consume. We have become consumers without a thought for its effect on us or society. Almost everyone is seeking that illusive quality, happiness and neglecting the longer term and more attainable contentedness.

For my part I see too much emphasis on this life and none on the next.
MrsPat
23rd Nov 2017
1
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Well spending money makes a lot of people happy but the real issue is many of us have gone overboard with this consumer society. On a "happyness index" I wonder if we are happier than folk 100 years ago?
Sanderling
22nd Nov 2017
4
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I think most unhappiness comes from people desperately trying to live up to an image. I don't think being wealthy necessarily makes people unhappy. The most wealthy people I've come across haven't driven smart cars and dressed in designer clothes. They often had old houses with worn rugs and certainly didn't show off their wealth.
So many people get into debt because of the confusion between want and need. Someone on here said rightly about how shopping has become an obsession.
MrsPat
23rd Nov 2017
2
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I agree with you many people are trying to live to the "perfect" image.
Alicia
18th Nov 2017
3
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If you have got it spend it 🙂
Yodama
15th Nov 2017
4
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Makes me wonder if all the unnecessary things people buy are really a way of trying to fill the emptiness or unhappiness inside themselves.
Perhaps an emptiness which should be filled with love.
Too much of everything becomes a burden and still the feeling of wanting something to satisfy a deeper need is not satisfied.
I think we all need more love.
Lionel
23rd Nov 2017
1
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A profound thought, Yodama, and one with which I completely agree.
Yodama
2nd Dec 2017
1
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Thank you Lionel, time for humanityt dig a little deeper into what it is that they really want or rather, what they really need.
Woottonm
15th Nov 2017
1
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I agree with all of the previous comment and feel
It has turned into a throw away and must have now society and all the bells and whistles must be included.
scandiman
15th Nov 2017
8
Thanks for voting!
When I was a child, I was taught to value what I had and look after things. If I broke it, it wouldn’t be replaced. I also learnt that I could only have what could be afforded. One of my grandsons has had everything he wanted because of his indulgent father. Now he’s at university, he is being subsidised by the same parent. The latest phone, computer game? He gets it. He’s had a moped for college because he refused to use public transport, then a motorcycle, now a car. He doesn’t look after anything. He is a most unhappy young adult, always looking for the next ‘must have’. Shopping is the national pastime in U.K. On a lovely sunny day, parents dragging bored kids round the shops. As for Christmas, it starts earlier every year. I think it’s little more than a festival of indulgence. I have just been to Spain and Portugal. No mention of Christmas anywhere. What a refreshing change!
Lionel
15th Nov 2017
5
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I understand everything you've written and agree.

My step grand children, now 16 and 15, both plead for a need. The latest iPhone, iPad. The boy, that's the 15 year old, wants to be a YouTube blogger and has asked for a high end computer - £5,000 - HD video cameras and lights. A near neighbour in our village was a TV cameraman and director in America. He priced the HD gear and lights at £15,000. Oh, and the lad needs a village hall as a studio. And it gets better. He'll need to rent a dedicated server which I priced at £300 a month!

All that for a talentless lad who mumbles horribly and can't hold a conversation beyond three words. Talk about a sense of entitlement. And he even wanted us to borrow money against our house to fund him. Not a bloody chance mate.

Back in the summer my wife began a conversation to determine how we could help the lad achieve his ambition. I dutifully heard her case and said, 'NO!' I've no intention of feeding his perceived need.

That lad has a very bad dose of affluenza/entitlement. Treatment? Go earn what you say you need! Prove to me you have a talent for anything because in 15 years nothing has yet emerged.
scandiman
15th Nov 2017
5
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Yes, my grandson wanted something similar,so he could post film on YouTube of him and his drum kit. Fortunately, Mum said no. Money seems to run through some people’s hands, in the never-ending pursuit of happiness. I know people who regularly change their furniture and household gadgets. The amount of money they spend is unbelievable. A lot of it I think, is because of easily available credit, and the market saturated with goods. I always smile at the adverts which offer 0% credit for two years on a sofa, and get it by Christmas. As if having a new sofa will give you a better Christmas!
Lionel
15th Nov 2017
5
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The world around us has conflated two words with very different meanings. Happiness and contentedness. For us the former is the spike which occurs when something unexpected and wonderful happens, and it does from time to time. The latter is a state of peace and tranquility in which we exist day by day.

No material goods have brought contentedness, no, just a fleeting spike of happiness.

We would rather live in our former Council house out in the wilds; three Collies and grand kids in and out with their latest beaus. Neighbours come in, if they can get past the dogs. It's home, not a palace or museum. Our nearly son-in-law, on his second visit more than a year ago said, 'I like this place. You've got something right here. It's peaceful. I didn't know how much I missed peace until I came here.' And about twice a month he spends a day with us.

Money doesn't buy peace and tranquility. But we need a little in reserve. In the early hours of a Sunday morning recently vets charged me £500 to treat one of my Collies who'd had a stroke. Because we don't have credit the cash was there.

I know I'm old fashioned but from the Tallyman to the credit companies, debt has been the enemy of people. We will not go into debt for grand children's wants; they get what we think is appropriate for them. No more.
MrsPat
15th Nov 2017
1
Thanks for voting!
Far too much time is spent on material goods and the pursuit of wealth rather than spiritual time. We have forgotten the natural world. I fear its going to get worse before it gets better.
Wilf
14th Nov 2017
5
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Well at this time of year I know Influenza is affecting our happiness but I have never heard of Afluenza! Thinking about this I think that humans have always wanted money and affluence. Its only today that so many of us have it-figuratively speaking .ie. most of us have cars, phones and can eat every day. We are becoming more of a society obsessed with material objects BUT I do believe that as people get older they start to realise money is not everything-Health is Wealth is a good start. A few mates in a pub or a lovely family are worth more than a million pounds. Life is for enjoyment its not just about having stuff...breathing clean air, drinking hot tea...having a Guinness and a polite society are worth a lot more!-Rant over!
kentrix39
14th Nov 2017
6
Thanks for voting!
The way kids are now brought up is scandulous they are allowed to ruin everyone's peace and quiet. They have invaded all aspects of adult life no place is safe for adults to enjoy a nice life.
Hands out all the time because no matter where they come from, council house or "nob hill" they have TOO MUCH money to throw away

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