It seems as though consumer marketing is one of the biggest reasons why people may feel like they need things, even if we already have it. They still happen to want more. I’ve started to notice especially through studies and observation, that happiness has become greatly linked to the accumulation of “things.” The documentary “Happy,” says ‘we think we need things because we have been told we need things. We’ve been told we need things by society.’ As humans, the more we get, the more we want, and that can also play a big part in the state of our happiness, especially if it’s relied on consumerism.
I’ve realized that marketing tells us that we shouldn’t be content with what we have, and when we are not content, we may strive for mostly material things to make us happy. Living in the western world, there’s enough evidence to show how much we are sold on a daily basis. There are adverts everywhere we turn. From that quick pop up ad every time you view a Snapchat story, to the digital adverts selling you the latest car, clothing brands, watch and so on. With all of this, it can convince people into subconsciously wanting things they don’t need.
The idea of happiness varies with everyone, depending on their beliefs and values. Studies have shown that happiness is a positive state of emotion which in most cases, what people strive for. If someone asked you what you want in life, what would you say? Most of the time you’d hear, “To be happy”. Then if you asked, what would define that happiness, what would you say? In the ‘Happy’ movie, people said they want a house, money, a brand new car etc. What do those things have in common? Yes, they are all things. Things that do not last forever, things that come and go and things that can go within a flash.
Minimalism is a movement that has taken a leap in the 21st century. It assists people into living with a lot less and no longer being reliant on material goods, or too much of it. By doing this, it gets people to focus more on what’s important to them. Such as family, societies, pursuing passions, reclaiming time and getting rid of excess stuff. People have started living in tiny houses which has created a better more affordable and sustainable living for them. That contrast shows how people are going through great lengths for the sake of becoming happier. I believe it’s all well and good when we buy things we like. However I do believe the people who benefit will always be the ones selling. Take Apple for instance; Every year there’s a new product being sold, with hardly any new changes to them. However because of the adverts, and the stories shared about how the camera will take better selfies, will get most people sold on that new iPhone.
This is not to say that owing material things is bad, because sometimes buying a new Gucci bag will bring you happiness, even if it’s temporary. It’s also not to say you can’t strive for a big house, expensive new car or the iPhone X. However do having all these things create meaning in your life? Most of all, do they bring lasting happiness? Jimmy Carter says, “Only things, and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning.” That statement, I believe is true.
Written by Leigh-Ann Ncube