The United States has the largest consumer culture in the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, since 1950 consumer spending has grown exponentially, illustrating that materialism is quickly increasing. People are consumed with consumption! Pun intended. Not all buying is bad when it’s the things you actually need, but when it’s beyond what you need, then this behavior has a negative impact on your life.
People are becoming more and more lost in materialism and “Keeping up With The Joneses.” Lately, modern social media such as Instagram and Facebook have had a large influence on this negative trend. Modern social media has become a tool for driving more sales of things we don’t need.
Side note: At times, I do feel my own social media channels promote materialism and that is why I have decided to focus my new content in a more positive direction that doesn’t support needless consumption.
Social media makes it easier to compare our lives with influencers and celebrities which typically increases insecurity with our own accomplishments and gives us a distorted view of reality. It’s important to remember that generally, people with larger followings receive money for promoting products and services.
The golden days of when social networks were simply a tool for bringing people together are over. Now it’s all about generating ad revenue through promoting unneeded consumption.
According to Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test results (a common tool that is used to measure people’s mental health) since the 1940s, rates of depression and anxiety in Americans have been on the rise. Other studies have shown this to be true around the globe as well.
Modern technology traps us in a cycle of distraction and promotes unneeded consumption. By constantly distracting ourselves from our problems, we can never solve them. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements and always feel we have to buy more or make more money to achieve success and happiness.
Increased levels of consumption have devastating effects on the environment such as increased air pollution and increased waste.
The conclusion is that embracing materialism by consuming above and beyond what we actually need has a negative impact on our lives and the world. This negative behavior only distracts us from solving life’s real problems.
Luckily, There is a Solution
If we want to escape these negative trends and find real fulfillment in life, there has to be a major shift in our thinking. We must realize that true fulfillment comes only from within. Nothing externally can bring us lasting fulfillment. Buying the latest gadget, getting a job that makes more money, having the perfect partner or some other external thing will NOT complete us or bring true fulfillment.
Once we realize that fulfillment comes from our own mindset, we can re-prioritize what is truly important in life. From my experience, I have found that a recipe for fulfillment comes from appreciation and giving life a purpose.
First, let’s talk about appreciation. Life is a miracle in itself, just think about it. We are all floating on a big rock in the middle of space. Somehow we are kept alive by these incredible bodies we have. There is food naturally growing out of the ground to eat. There are tons of people around to make friends with. Living is pretty great!
My point is instead of focusing on what you don’t have, be thankful for what you do have and the fact that you’re even alive in the first place to experience the miracle of life.
Give Your Life a Purpose
Second, give your life meaning by focusing on how you can help people by creating value for others. If you’re spending your incredibly precious time, doing work that doesn’t help others, what the hell are you doing with your life? Chasing money is for dummies! Yes, you need a certain amount to survive, but once you are comfortable, getting more and more won’t increase your happiness.
What gets me fired up is inspiring people to explore the world. I feel that the more people who travel, the less divided we will be as humans. The less divided we are, the less fear there will be. With less fear, violence and wars will be reduced. Viola! Let’s be happy damn it!
Your life’s purpose doesn’t have to be like mine, but hopefully it got your brain wheels turning. What can you do to help other people? I assure you that if you find a cause you are truly passionate about, there will be a way to sustain a living from it.
Stop running away from your problems by turning to distractions such as needless buying, wasting time on social media, escaping your problems with alcohol or other destructive behaviors! If you don’t feel fulfilled with life, focus on appreciation and giving your life a purpose through creating value for others.
Remember that the key to fulfillment in life isn’t something external, it’s already inside of you.