The Importance Of Gratitude And How Materialism Brings Unhappiness In Life

Numerous individuals around the world are endeavoring for an incredible duration towards one objective, joy. A person's earning and achievements doesn't matter if he is not happy. Every person has set his own standard of happiness, but for some the road to happiness never ends as they are always willing to have more and more. This is where materialistic approach of human nature comes into play into which he never feels satisfied. The material possessions which a person tries to acquire first provide joy but as a person gets habitual to achieve high targets, life becomes difficult for him if he is not able to achieve those targets. A materialistic person forgets the true meaning of life and happiness. This paper tries to explain that how materialism leads to unhappiness with never ending desires and it keeps a person away from true pleasures of life by terminating personal growth.

In the present society, it’s impossible to not build up any materialistic tendencies. Since childhood we see the luxurious and rich life of people in movies, advertisements and social media and we learn that success means being rich, famous and admired by the masses. With this particular approach, the goal post of some people always keeps on moving and they never feel satisfied with their achievements. They are even chasing those goals which are not meant for them. During all these struggles they fail to achieve what they could have achieved easily. When wealth becomes a person’s only goal, he sacrifices many beautiful things in life. “Substantial evidence shows that people who place a relatively high priority on materialistic values/goals consume more products and incur more debt”. No matter how much wealth a materialistic person has he will always be in desire of more and more wealth. He will always be busy in buying new things rather than cherishing the ones he already has because there are always new things in market. “No matter how good and expensive the products you possess right now are, it’s most likely that they will soon become obsolete, with newer, upgraded versions of them always coming out in the market”. Materialistic people place high importance on their possessions. “Baumeister (1991) suggests happiness is increased when individuals purchase a materialistic asset. However, they then become habituated to the asset, resulting in a decline in happiness”. For example, if you buy a mobile phone and all of a sudden a mobile phone comes with new features you will be wishing to buy that advance television and ignore the one you have. This phenomenon is called the adaption level theory. This theory is also called hedonic adaption. “The hedonic treadmill (also known as hedonic adaptation) is a theory positing that people repeatedly return to their baseline level of happiness, regardless of what happens to them”. These theories show that purchasing materialistic goods can give you satisfaction but it will not last longer. As a person gets adapted to having the best his level of happiness begins to decrease.

Another reason for materialistic people being less happy is that they are less grateful for their blessings. Once a person is grateful with whatever he has, he can find unhappiness in even the smallest things which might not mean anything for the other people around. Gratitude is necessary to remain satisfied in life but a materialistic person will be ungrateful in life for the things he doesn’t have. “In 1990's Scott dawson and Marsha richins built up the main scale to quantify materialism and as indicated by this scale, they concur with articulations like “My life would be better if I owned certain things I don’t have”. Gratitude means acknowledging all the positive things around you but for a materialistic person who has set unrealistic goals in his life will never. If a person looks around he will find many people with those things which he doesn’t have and will find many people desiring for the blessings which he has. “Gratitude is suggested to spread the positive affect of the people around. People who experience gratitude are less prone to materialistic strivings because they tend to view their lives as more secure and complete”. A person with less gratitude will not be adore the blessings he has. He will always find his pocket empty because of greed of having more and more. Lan Nguyen Chaplin, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Saying to Oneself: “Expect Nothing” and “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” Can Help to Create a Baseline for Assessing Gratitude”. When a person lacks gratitude in his life, he seems less satisfied with his life and this leads to many mental health problems in life. They are not able to focus on things which are necessary part of their life. “more materialistic people are less upbeat to some extent since they think that it’s harder to be appreciative for what they have, in view of this low dimension of appreciation, 'fundamental mental requirements (which permit) people to flourish' go fail all things considered. Feelings of ungratefulness keeps us distracted from those things which really matter in life. So it is important sometimes to take a break from life and focus on all the beautiful things around you which bring positivity in your life. With a positive mindset a person can prove to be productive rather than always looking around negative things. He can discover many new things in life and feel relax by having more sleep instead of wasting nights while stressing for new objectives. “Being grateful for what you DO have increases performance and yields better results than a materialistic approach that is centered around temporal gratification rather than long-term success and well-being”.

Materialistic people lack happiness because of unhealthy relationships. A materialistic person is busy in valuing material possessions that he forgets his loved ones. A successful relationship requires care and support from both persons. Sometimes one person has to compromise his desires for the sake of happiness of his loved ones. But materialism makes a person selfish. “It conditions you to work in service of what you want, often to the detriment of the other person. Think of it this way: in a healthy relationship, the two partners are inward facing. In a relationship dominated by materialism, they're outward facing”. So when two persons in a relationship are not going to spend much time with each other so things will not work better for them. Similarly, materialism affects marriages a lot. Life of materialistic couples is completely different from non-materialistic couples. “ 'Marriage dissatisfaction occurs because those who highly value money and possessions are likely to value their marriage less, and are thus likely to be less satisfied in their relationship,' said LeBaron, the study's lead author”. Materialistic people value money more than anything in the world and forget about the future will their loved ones. In a survey conducted of 1310 married individuals by caroll the participants were shown two options such as “Having nice things today is more important to me than saving for the future,” and, “Having money is very important to me.” The individuals were asked to rank the statements. “The data showed that increased levels of materialism led to a decreased belief in the importance of marriage as a whole, and less satisfaction within one’s own marriage”. Materialistic people don’t value their partners efforts as they are always expecting something special and precious. “It is sad how relationships can be measured based on how much someone can afford to give you instead of the happiness he brings you by just being in your life, or the way he makes you want to be a better person”. Along with money relationships are also important in a person’s life because money is not the solution of every problem. Sometimes spending time with each other and making memories with each other is also important, but a materialistic person doesn’t have time for his family, friends and children and when difficulties rise upon him, it becomes difficult for him to fight with them as he lacks the support of his loved ones.

Materialism also creates feelings of jealousy between people. As a materialistic person is never happy with his blessings, he is always busy in noticing what others have. “As you begin to move in circles of equally materialistic people, your dreams will have to compete with the realities of others. And no matter how rich you are, there will always be someone richer than you”. Acquiring material possessions is a never ending road and the more you get the less you will feel satisfied because you haven’t decided your level of satisfaction. Feelings like jealousy also affect a person as an individual as he is never happy with the success of others. When he focuses too much on what he hasn’t it can also affect his mental health. “people who are materialistic tend to be 'me-centered.' “They are more likely to focus on what they do not have and are unable to be grateful for what they do have, whether it is their family, a nice house or a good job”. Being ungrateful every time can affect anybody’s mental health and can lead to depression and anxiety. Problems like these can affect an individual growth as well because he cannot look around all the beautiful things around him and his ambitions can be affected badly in these states. “Materialism is associated with lower levels of well-being, less pro-social interpersonal behavior, more ecologically destructive behavior, and worse academic outcomes. It also is associated with more spending problems and debt,” (locke). Materialism can cause a change in person’s behavior which cannot only affect relationships but also his image in society as well as less people will be willing to form a relationship with a materialistic person. An experiment was conducted to check whether people value people with material possessions or one with experiences by randomly asking them to talk to each other. “It was found that people who had discussed their material possessions liked their conversation partner less than those who had discussed an experience they had purchased. They also were less interested in forming a friendship with them, so there's a real social cost to being associated with material possessions rather than life experiences,” (Materialistic people liked less by peers than 'experiential' people). Life can be enjoyed to the fullest if you have good friends with whom you can spend quality time with. But a materialistic person will be always busy in valuing materialistic possessions rather than focusing on relationships which will make him an unattractive person to form a relationship with.

Another major cause of materialism among the young generation is social media. Every social media website has made its own standards of evaluating worth. “For Twitter it is 'Retweets' and 'top picks,' for Instagram and Facebook it is number of preferences and these numbers assume an enormous job by they way we assess self-esteem and the value of others as we post to get these numbers and we need high ones'. When we don’t get these numbers it lowers our self-esteem and we start judging our value on these numbers. We respect those people which are more famous on social media and the ones who are rich. “A research showed that materialism and Facebook activity can be partly explained by materialists displaying a stronger social comparison orientation, having more Facebook friends and objectifying and instrumentalising their friends more intensely,” (Materialistic people spend more time on social media). People are impressed by the luxurious life of people on social media and consider themselves less privileged because of that. Social media makes people look richer than they are in reality. Materialistic person on social media is always busy in comparing his life with the ones who are better than him and he tries to appear more rich than them.

Nowadays, children are introduced to social media in the early days of their life which starts developing materialistic approach among them. “The exposure of children to media at small age also makes them susceptible towards external environment by generating materialism and this materialism is leading to excessive consumption and impulsive purchase by children”. Children only learn to become famous and rich through social media which leaves them unaware on how to become a successful and respectful person. They focus more on buying things instead of learning new things. They develop unrealistic desires and whenever these desires go unmet they become less satisfied and less happy in life.

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09 March 2021
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