PARADOX OF AFFLUENCE
PARADOX OF AFFLUENCE
Recently I read an article a person sharing his experience in which he depicts how smoothly his life is going,he is occupied with all sorts of luxury,having a good pacakge.But he is missing something in his life.what might be that.The person told that still I m not happy.Yes,happiness was missing.
We usually say if I will achieve this then I will be happy,if this….and the list of this goes on and goes on.There is always a two side of a coin,two aspect of life,and so the opinion is also two.One who says Money can buy happiness,and one who says no it can’t.
Some survey research confirms a belief that satisfying and content life is much more important than money.
A study done by Campbell and his colleagues (1976)people rank money at the bottom of important sources of life satisfaction. “The Science of Happiness,”January 17,2005,p.A5).Taking a broad view,most of us don’t believe that money has much to do with a happy and satisfying life.
National opinion polls have asked people about the role of money in their happiness and life satisfaction(Myers,1992,2000a,2000b).Many answer money is required to improve the quality of life.For good life,money was not needed.The ideas expressed in the surveys (more money more happiness),is applicable to poor people.
The term “Paradox of Affluence”,is drawn from the title of David Myers’ book The Paradox of Affluence:Spiritual hunger in an Age of plenty(Myers 2000b).This book offers a detailed description of the disparity that has developed over 40 to 50 years in America between material well being and psychological being.A recent view by Diener and Seligman (2004) also provides extensive statistical evidence that indices of material affluence and well being have gone in opposite direction since the 1950s.Americans have doubled and tripled their lifestyle,ownership of luxury life etc.
So,one might Conclude that this economic gains will lead to a flourishing and content life.It’s obvious that those who has all sort of material resources might enhance more happiness to them.But it was surprising to see that Mental Health Statistics affirm a disappointing picture of more rather than less distress correlation with incresed material wealth.
Reviews of mental health literature conclude that most of the people are now suffering from mental disorders and emotional distress compared to past.
And among all Depression is at the top list of causes of ill health.The reports of WHO,which strangely shows some of the more affluent countries have higher rate of mental health problem than compared to poor countries.
The question is Do this modern consumer oriented society with all sorts of comfort are satisfied with their life? The answer is No.Research again shows that a people of certain culture reject most aspects of modern life and are much more happy in their culture through common religious faith.They do not stay in affluent society and are much happier than others.
So,what we need to understand is this affluent society,modern tech environment,material consumption can’t provide deep sustaining life meanings.The life is still meaningless.People experiences an “Inner-emptiness”,empty self.
The research done by Philip Cushman (1990) argues that our consumer culture has displaced the deeper meanings of life.Earlier in our traditional family when people used to live in joint family life was much purposeful.There was a close relationship with each other,sharing and caring and nurturance relationship was there.Nowadys,lifehas become more consumption based which is leading to hollowness in life.
According to Robert Putman (2000),membership in community organization is declining day by day acorss the country.The social life is effected.People are much more limited with themselves.So,according to putman the decline in social interest is creating many psychological problem.
According to Schwartz the more choice we have the more dissatisfied we are.It becomes a pressure for us to choose.Abduncae of choice creates conflict which reduces well-being.
So,it can be concluded that affluent society,affluent culture,materialism and consumption culture is not necessairly lead to content and satisfied life.People still faces an emptiness and hollow within them.
(Department of Psychology)
Patna Women’s College (Autonomous)