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The book, “The High Price of Materialism” was written by a psychologist named Tim Kasser and analyzed human material gains versus satisfaction. According to the author, continued pursuit of materialistic values end up making people more productive but at the expense of their happiness. He successfully links materialism with dissatisfaction, anxiety and in extreme cases with self-destruction. The continued capitalistic economy continues to shape the world’s population into a selfish and individualistic lifestyle, by making it a winner-take-all economy. With the growing technology and celebrity culture, majority of people continues to pay huge price to maintain their well-being. The book uses empirical research and experiments to explain how materialism harms the people’s psychological well-being. He described on how people pursue values such as image, status and financial well-being instead of self-acceptance, community and family values. This paper seeks to analyze some of the key arguments in the Kasser’s book, which makes it fascinating and compelling.
The book capitalizes on the idea of how the high level of materialism leads to depression and low self-actualization. Materialism tends to reduce people’s quality of life and block them from realizing the fundamental psychological needs for self-esteem, safety and relationships. He exhaustively uses the research findings to conclude on how materialistic people end up living an unhappy lifestyle, which tortures them physically or emotionally.
How materialism affects our contemporary world
High materialism encourages consumption which consequently threatens the earth’s limited resources. The materialism trend has greatly continued to trouble the living standards of the American citizens now more than ever. It has also eroded people’s happiness as they struggle to attain their selfish goals. Majority of people thinks that the more material they become, the more they become satisfied in life. However, according to research undertaken by Kasser (2003), the continued uphold of materialistic values not only undermines people’s life, but it limit them to useful participation. The continued adoption of consumerism culture has significantly undermined people’s welfare. It has moved them from a low end satisfaction and happiness into a life full of depressions and anxiety. Majority of people therefore continues to suffer from physical or mental disorders. Persistent headaches and antisocial behavior have continued to trouble many. The unrelenting material wealth accumulation therefore does not meet the expected joy and happiness in life as many think it would.
There are so many problems revolving around our contemporary world as the consumer culture continues to dominate our lifestyles. A constant feeling of inadequacy and insecurity has therefore led our lives. We are ever worried of our lives, shape, size and color, something that never used to bother people in the past. People endeavors to please their needs without mindig the consequences of their actions. The perception of quality life has also changed to include material gains. Nowadays people are not looking forward to be like saints, but rather like the wealthy, famous and good looking celebrities.
Kasser (2003) argues that modern society has transformed from being person centered into being money centered. As a result people have continued to harm their environment and destroying their social connections as they seek for happiness. He defines materialism as an act of pursuing fame, money and image. And people measure such values through the attained possessions, popularity and attractiveness to the general public. However, according to him, the people said to have the materialistic values suffers physically and psychologically than the ones with less. To him, provided the basic needs are met, material gains do not translate to happiness. He pointed out that the rich people pursue a less happy kind of life compared to the poor. According to him, the materialistic people experience a deprived kind of life later in their lives. For instance the ones who suffered during the 1930s great depression and the 2008 economic recession are the materialistic people and not the poor.
Root cause of materialism
The additionally argues that the root cause of the rising insecurity is materialism. And it comes as a result of competition and pursuit for material gains which consequently impact negatively on the people’s happiness. Kasser (2003) signifies that materialism is relative and that we need material things like food and shelter to survive. He however noted that excessive accumulation of materialistic values at the expense of other values in life is unhealthy. This is often observed whenever people place their appearance and money values first.
According to Kasser (2003), people will always seek some materialistic lifestyle, whenever they need sustenance and safety. Those who are predisposed to unsafe upbringing will in most cases end up developing a materialistic life orientation. They do this since they feel it is the right thing to do as they never got a chance when they were growing up. But the urge eventually ends up making them to have an empty feeling. The feeling emanates from the dissatisfaction obtained after attaining your dream objectives. Whenever a human being attains something he or she always aspires to have more and the cycle is endless. This therefore triggers the dissatisfaction which consequently makes people unhappy even after accumulating wealth. Kasser therefore argues that materialism tends to be harmful to our well-being whenever we compromise our fundamental values in search of wealth.
Kasser (2003) pointed out that materialistic lifestyle is mainly adopted in order to break a long dependency trend that has dominated in the past. Materialism advocates more on self than on the relationships. Those strongly attached to materialistic kind of life tends to care less about others and instead they have an instrumental view of others as they seek to maximize theeir returns. This can be seen by the glamorous images in our media which encourages people criticism.
According to Kasser (2003) materialism encourages people to approve the essential values like fame, popularity and money, while neglecting the extrinsic values in life. People therefore set their goals to attain their intended values without minding of the overall impact of their behavior in the society. As a result people tend to neglect their personal and community growth as their values comes first.
My opinion on Kasser’s perspective
I totally agree with Kasser’s argument, since materialism has become inherent in people’s lifestyle especially in the recent times. Majority of people work day and night in order to accomplish some material gains, at the expense of other fundamental values like self-actualization. The greed for money and passion for creating an image or expression to others has dominated people’s mind making them to care less of others. It is also evident that people’s determination is usually guided by selfish connotations, which at the end makes us live an unhappy lifestyle.
Impacts of the Kasser’s materialism perspective in our lives
Although we may argue that material gains are important in life as they ensure human satisfaction, excessive pursuit of materialistic values ends up harming us. Majority of us have completely neglected our societal needs and instead, have opted to chase material gains. The busy schedule adopted for wealth accumulation leaves deter us from living as a community. Families have parted ways and everyone now operates on his or her own as the competition stiffens. It is much worrying to notice that the youths are the main victims of materialism. We adopt have chosen to pursue image, money and fame throughout our lives. But the most worrying part is that, even after wealth accumulation, happiness and satisfaction is still not realized.
Celebrities and reputable people continue to suffer from depressions and other stress related illnesses. It sometimes reaches a point where I ask myself, what is real happiness? When I was young, I thought being rich is being happy, but after a close examination of rich family lifestyle, they seem to be unhappier than the medium and low income earners. Children from rich families also tend to be much unhappy of the lifestyles their parents’ lives. The endless struggle to have more tends to deter them from having a peaceful coexistence with one another. Materialism seems to be the main reason why people live. And the busy work schedule adopted by many advocates towards material gains. Our selfish motives have also dominated our lives, making it a winner-takes-all lifestyle. Kasser’s perspective was a well-researched argument which focuses on the real world scenario and the issues affecting our daily lives. However, people needs to check their materialistic values and ensure that they do not eventually harm them in future. Satisfaction and happiness in life should be the main concern in everybody’s life.