The material world
Are you one of those people who queue up to make sure they have the latest version of the iWidget? Do you need to upgrade your wardrobe every few weeks? Do you want a bigger house? Perhaps a sportier car is your aspiration. If you do want any of these things is it because you think they will somehow make your life better and perhaps enhance your happiness? If so, you are an adherent of a materialist philosophy, and it will interest you know that in fact materialism is more likely to contribute to depression than happiness.
For their study, researchers examined people studying marketing at university. The average age of the subjects was 21. All of the subjects completed a survey that measured materialism, gratitude, need satisfaction and life satisfaction.
The results showed that people who scored high on materialism also scored low on gratitude and low on satisfaction of needs and in life in general.
Ironically, it is the very adaptability of humans as a species, the reason why we have been so biologically successful, which explains this phenomenon. Very simply, we adapt easily to new situations and so new acquisitions do not make a difference to us for very long.
Additionally, materialism is a very egocentric, or self-focused, way of thinking and living. Thinking about yourself in a materialistic way can often lead to considering what you do not have rather than what you do have. By contrast, gratitude is a positive state centred around other people or things.
So even though our consumerist culture encourages us to thing about ourselves in order to maximise happiness, in fact the opposite is true. Thinking about others actually is the bedrock of happiness whereas thinking about yourself drives acquisition. All of which explains why you wonâ€™t see billboards pushing gratitude any time soon.