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LESS IS MORE


As the end of November sees the shops getting busier, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, sadly now a firm part of British culture, sends shoppers into a frenzy, frantic to grab themselves a Christmas bargain. And if we can’t get to the shop? No problem, everything we need is just a click away - we don’t even need to leave our seats!


It is so easy to get swept up in the need to buy. Everywhere we turn we are being told we NEED something - from our TV’s, mobile phones, radio, newspapers, outdoor advertising, the side of the bus - the bus stop! And that doesn’t include the subtle, subconscious, keeping up with the Jones’ ‘if only I had X…’ Quite frankly, it’s exhausting.


Stephanie Kaza, Environment Professor and Buddhism practitioner at the University of Vermont , writes in Tricycle, The Buddhist Review, "In a practical sense, consumerism is a belief system and culture that promotes consumption as the path to self and social improvement. As a dominant cultural force, consumerism offers products to address every dissatisfaction.”


This certainly helps to explain WHY we feel the need to shop more than ever before - whether we can afford it or not. With our increasingly busy and stressful lifestyles, we think we can buy our way to happiness and contentment, but can consumerism really help us to feel better?


Tim Kasser, PhD, is a professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg along with his colleagues at the University of Sussex, published a meta-analysis that showed the negative relationship between materialism and well-being was consistent across all kinds of measures of materialism, types of people and cultures. He found that, the more highly people endorsed materialistic values, the more they experienced unpleasant emotions, depression and anxiety, the more they reported physical health problems, such as stomachaches and headaches, and the less they experienced pleasant emotions and felt satisfied with their lives. The most supported explanation for why well-being is lower when materialism is high concerns psychological needs. Specifically, materialistic values are associated with living one’s life in ways that do a relatively poor job of satisfying psychological needs to feel free, competent and connected to other people.*


So the answer is, no. Too great a focus on materialism is not good for our mind, body and soul. This Christmas why don’t we focus on quality over quantity, on thoughtfulness over monetary value. This Christmas, why don’t we gift mindfully?


"You own twice as much rug if you're twice as aware of the rug." - Allen Ginsberg


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