First, what is consumerism?
Consumerism has been defined as “the tendency for people to engage in a lifestyle of excessive materialism that revolves around reflexive, wasteful, or conspicuous overconsumption.“
From an economic perspective, consumerism in the information-age shapes business practices that help bolster job growth and creation, which in turn leads to economic vitality at the local and global levels.
On the extreme side of consumerism, however, is compromising one’s personal integrity and human dignity in the pursuit of unsustainable hedonistic pleasures—often at the cost of irreversible relational and financial ruin.
Psychological research has shown that “when people organize their lives around extrinsic goals such as product acquisition, they report greater unhappiness in relationships, poorer moods, and more psychological problems.”
Acquiring high-status artifacts does not amount to a greater degree of happiness. Actually, the opposite is true in that “the unhappiest people were those with the most conflict—those who reported high prosocial and high materialistic values.”
While there is not anything iniquitous in a bit of self-indulgence, the practice of living beyond one’s means to fill one’s coffers with built-in obsolescent goods is almost always a recipe for certain disaster—one that can have unintended social consequences and have an unimaginable toll on the environment.
To sum up, material things are neither good nor bad. Having nice things coupled with responsible living and a covenant of self-love could have some positive health benefits.
As you go about your shopping experiences during the holidays, evaluate your consumption relative to your present and future happiness and financial health.
Here are five questions to ask yourself before making purchases this holiday season.
- Do I have the money to pay for goods and/or services without going into debt?
- Can I delay buying it?
- Are these items a need or want?
- Whom am I supporting with this purchase?
- How will this purchase benefit me in the long run?