All that spending encouraged by our capitalistic society is making us really depressed, a new study finds. Northwestern University found that anyone placing great value on wealth, status and material possessions is more like to be depressed and anti-social than the rest of us.
So what we think makes us happy does just the opposite.
In two of four experiements, university students were asked to complete questionaires about images they’d seen of either luxury goods or natural scenes devoid of consumer products. Those viewing the fancy cars, gadgets and jewelry were more likely to say they felt sad and anxious, and also less inclined to be social.
In another experiment, students were presented with a hypothetical water shortage with a well shared by them and three other people. Asked to identify themselves as either “consumer” or “individual”, the “consumers” said they felt less trusting of others, less responsible for the shortage and less likely to help solve the problem. “Consumer status did not unite, it divided,” the study c oncluded.
Clearly, many of us could shift the way we think about money. As Laura Vanderkam writes in her new book, All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending, rather than comparing ourselves to the Joneses and trying to emulate their spending habits, it’s smarter to view money as a valuable tool.
Not only cam this spare us the stress of BS-ing ourselves into thinking we’re entitled to live beyond our means—a recipe for debt—we can free ourselves up to work toward what really matters: retirement, college and whatever else you value.
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