Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Spending :-)

Happy Halloween! I enjoy fun in any form and Halloween brings back lovely memories of us 'Van Schaick' children terrorising the neighbourhood in old sheets with cut out holes for eyes - witches hats made out of black card and turnip Jack'o lanterns - anything that we could muster from around us - we used our imaginations and made things from nothing. Unlike Halloween today which has become a consumer frenzy and I am sure the Chinese are laughing all the way to HSBC.
Its nice to have money to spend but although spending may be good for the economy its not such great news for the environment or our individual levels of satisfaction. Consumerism is a preoccupation with getting and spending, leading to insatiable wants. Its underpinned by a belief that economic and social prosperity depends on growth in consumer spending and that's why so much of our economic policy supports consumerism (so says Dr Miriam Tatzel). But there are drawbacks......Consumer appetites are draining our planet. The production of all that bling and electronics (and plastic skeletons) that we demand is leading to a degradation of natural resources, global warming, increased pollution and even worse exploitation of cheap labour. And its an appetite that is never satisfied - despite what you may think, all of that spending is not making us happy!

Happiness doesn't come from having more money to buy possessions, living in luxury or being admired by others for the car that you drive. Instead research has shown that the factors that lead to human happiness  are ........ Competence, autonomy, meaning, pleasure, engagement and relationships and none of these is fuelled by money or materialism. In fact if you want to be happy you need to have a low level of materialism, as materialism undermines  your wellness. Once you are on the hedonistic treadmill - the human tendency to get used to what we have no matter how nice it is and strive for more - its hard to get off. It has been proven that getting more doesn't meet our needs or sustain our happiness and less materialistic people are happier and more satisfied with life.
The larger the gap between what one wants and what one has, the greater the dissatisfaction - Less materialism equals more happiness says Dr Tatzel.
Happiness comes from 'doing' rather than 'having'. This is great news to me as I am 'doing' a lot more and 'having' a lot less lately! People have been commenting that I look happier and I can honestly say that I am. When I have spare cash - I spend it on experiences and not things - the effect of investing in experiences lasts a lot longer as they are relived in our memory and the stories they create,  than the money spent on a new pair of shoes, a new kitchen appliance or a new Halloween outfit! They are also easier on our earth's resources and they make us interested and interesting.

So, I shall enjoy Halloween especially the biodegradable pumpkin lanterns that Helen (my daughter in law) has carved, the pumpkin pie, the recycled witches hat that I have borrowed and the simple trick or treating that the grandies will do ..... but please leave the decorations in the shops and send them back to China where the peasant, who works a 12 hour shift for next to nothing who made them, doesn't even know what Halloween is. Same goes for Christmas.......Less equals more. Be Happy!

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