Happiness researchers are convinced that people in Western societies place too much emphasis on material goods and economic growth. There is the (ill-founded) claim, repeated in Schwartz’s Foreign Policy piece, that we believe GDP to be a proxy for broader well-being. The micro version of this claim, also made by Schwartz, is that we personally place too much emphasis on material goods:
But, consistent with a substantial body of research showing that we generally don’t know what’s good for us, when the money was flowing we substituted risk for security. We sacrificed time with friends and family to spend more time at work accumulating wealth and more time after work figuring out how to spend it. (emphasis added)
Richard Eckersley makes similar arguments in the local context:
The evidence shows material progress does not straightforwardly make us richer by giving us the freedom to live as we wish. Rather, it comes with an array of cultural and moral prerequisites and consequences, such as prioritising money and the things it buys. This affects how we think of the world and ourselves, and the choices we make. These choices are not optimising human health, wellbeing and potential
Of course, people make mistakes in their lives. But do most people really think that money is the route to happiness?
Continue reading “Do people mistakenly prioritise money-making in their lives?”