The headline is the title of an article in the Christian Science Monitor about how consuming fewer planetary resources may, instead of making us deprived, make us happier. We’ve discussed this so often here on No Impact Man.
The article, by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, points to yet another study that shows that material consumption above a certain level does not seem to bring increased happiness. Since that same material consumption is harming our habitat, the article asks, should we in the United States and Western Europe adopt new societal priorities?:
- “The United States, which ranked 16th [in national happiness rankings] and has the world’s largest economy, has largely stalled in happiness gains – this despite ever more buying power. Americans are now twice as rich as they were in 1950, but no happier, according to [a new] survey.”
- “Overconsumption is a major factor in environmental degradation, global warming chief among them. Could a wrong-headed approach to seeking happiness, then, be exacerbating some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems? And could learning to be truly content help mitigate them?”
- “People, [Martin Seligman, a happiness expert] notes, are often happiest when helping other people, when engaged in “self-transcendent” activities. What does this mean? Rather than making a gift of the latest iPhone, buy someone dancing lessons, he says. Instead of taking a resort vacation, build a house with Habitat for Humanity.”
- “For their part, psychologists are advocating that policymakers use indicators other than the Gross National Product (GNP) to make decisions. What’s the purpose of an economy, they ask, if not to enhance the well being of its citizenry?”
- “’It’s become growth for growth’s sake,’ says Nic Marks, founder of the Centre for Well-Being at the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in London. ‘It’s got its own internal logic, but it’s not serving humanity. So why are we doing it?’”
Read more here.
Photo courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor.