The High Price of Materialism

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In American Culture today, the extreme emphasis and competitive drive toward the abundance of consumerism and materialism rules our society as a whole. Stepping back from our wants, our needs are much different then what we are striving for. In Tim Kasser’s eye opening book, The High Price of Materialism, the author takes a scientific and very modern approach to this world wide epidemic that is costing people their happiness. Kasser explains how people who value and put priority on materialism often have a greater risk of being unhappy and acquiring psychological problems such as depression or anxiety. These accumulations of wealth and often petty desires have an effect on our internal well being. With this, Tim Kasser explains the problem and correlation between materialism and our own well-being, while offering an answer to the change needed within our society, our country, and an insane, indulged culture.

As I look around my community I see good people, a small town with much to offer. As I look into my own life, I see a good person with much to offer. My community, my family, and my nation I look at in a positive light. However, with that said, we lack a major fundamental reasoning skill. This skill is the ability to prioritize and acknowledge what is most important and vital for the survival and psychological health of the human species. In my everyday life, like a typical female in American society currently, I love to shop, a harmless activity. Gazing further, however, I have come to realize I need to take a moment and fully understand what empty space I am filling with my materialistic wants. These are not needs I understand, but somehow, for a quick moment, having a new purse or dress makes me happy. Why is this so? I wanted to understand not only my desires as a human being, but America’s and most of the world’s desire for needless possessions. These possessions are excess and waste. They are not basic food, shelter, or warm clothing. Fashion is at an all time high in major countries such as the United Stated and Europe, and most females especially thrive on this. But the obsessions do not stop there. Men work fifty hours a week to pay off a brand new sports car, while young adolescents in high school and college need the new phone or electronic device. I believe social prestige is to blame. Americans wants and desires are mainly to climb up the social latter. Second to social stratification would be convenience. As our society moves faster and “improves” everyday, convenient tools such as the Iphone come into play. Tim Kasser takes a very valid approach to recognizing the downfall of these wants, and how high the cost to these kinds of accumulation habits can be.

As stated in chapter one of The High Price of Materialism, materialistic values distract of us from what is truly meaningful in our lives. The author states that the messages we think are right, such as the accumulation of stuff, trick us into thinking deep satisfactions are on the horizon. Contrary to these media messages and constant advertisements, psychological constraints actually reside in the future of these societies. As a consumeristic society, America is the focal point of this downfall. Family values are now in the background of politician’s minds, and economic decisions now play the forefront of major decisions made in large scale, capitalistic governments. Plainly enough, qualities such as self-expression, deep relationships, and contributions to one’s own society are the “core notions of psychological health,” (Kasser 2002: 3) as stated by the author. In addition, materialistic priorities over relationships often lead to trade offs in marriages and friendships, ultimately distracting both people from actual psychological desires and needs.

My personal well-being and the well-being of my family and friends have value to me. So, the studies done in chapter two of the book intrigued me. Regardless of socioeconomic status, race,...
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