27 Mar Happiness and materialism
An interview I filmed for Chanel 7’s Today Tonight show aired this evening and below you can read the transcript.
Affluenza: an unhealthy desire
Reporter: Bryan Seymour
Broadcast Date: March 27, 2008
New research says Australians have a very bad case of ‘affluenza’ – a desire for luxuries that comes at the expense of other things.
Jana Heleece has a severe case of ‘luxury fever’.
“If I’m going to get a blouse, I have to get matching pants, then matching shoes, then matching bag – everything ends up adding up,” she said.
A recent study has revealed that Jana is not alone. Once, it was a case of keeping up with the Joneses. Now, it’s keeping up with the Beckhams.
Dr Clive Hamilton of the Australia Institute says Jana is simply a victim of a new virus in town called ‘affluenza’.
“Australians have a very bad dose of affluenza,” said Dr. Hamilton.
“Affluenza is really an unhealthy pre-occupation with money and material things and involves the sacrifice of other things that do contribute to our wellbeing.”
It’s a disease of the times and it’s catching.
“A few decades ago it was only the very rich who had access to luxury – but think about it today, all those luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, pretty much anyone can have luxury goods,” Dr. Hamilton said.
Dr Hamilton blames this restlessness on a growing dissatisfaction with our lives. Advertising, reality TV and the cult of celebrity are reinforcing the idea that material possessions can substitute any true examination of what makes us happy.
“In the old days, we used to say to ourselves ‘why get a new one?’ and now we say to ourselves, ‘why make do with the old one?’,” Dr Hamilton said.
“There’s this constant desire to renew what we have to replace one set of stuff with a new set of stuff.”
But living large does not equate to happy living. In fact, far from it.
“The first casualty of affluenza is usually people’s relationships – their marriages, their contact with their children,” Dr Hamilton said.
“These are the heaviest burden for people to carry.”
Psychologist Dr Tim Sharp from the Happiness Institute is in the business of helping people find that authentic happiness.
“We’re seeing people who despite on the surface have many things are dissatisfied, frustrated and continually searching for something more,” Tim said.
He suggested six key strategies based around the acronym ‘CHOOSE’. The C stands for Clarity.
“Clarity of purpose and priorities, life direction and life goals,” said Tim.
H stands for Healthy living.
“It’s hard to be happy if you’re sick and tired all the time.”
The first O is for Optimism.
“Optimistic thinkers do see the positives in the world but they also face the cold hard realities of the day in a constructive way.”
The second O is for Other People.
“Happiness is not a selfish endeavour. All about me, me, me. It’s also about the other people in your life.”
S stands for strengths.
“We know happy people spend more time building on and utilising their core attributes, strengths and abilities as opposed to trying to fix all their weaknesses.”
The last letter E, is for Enjoy the moment.
“It’s about living in and enjoying the moment,” Tim said.
“There’s only one point in time we can be truly happy and that’s the here and now. If you want inner peace, if you want to feel something in life, to feel part of life, listen to the Cicadas – aren’t they beautiful?”
The Happiness Institute
Phone: (02) 9221 3306