The consumer treadmill

Men do not desire to be rich, but to be richer than other men.
John Stuart Mill
1806 – 1873

Treadmills are wonderful — for exercise. Otherwise, being on a treadmill means spending a lot of time and energy but not making any real progress. Unfortunately, we’ve become a nation that spends an awful lot of time on the consumer treadmill.

Let me explain what I mean. In the past few decades, the standard of living has increased significantly. Yet our feeling of well being has actually decreased. So many people are earning more money and buying more things, but it’s not making us any more content with life. While we’re working harder to get more, what we get doesn’t bring long term satisfaction.

For the most part, we’ve bought into the notion that success is defined by the make and model of the car we drive, the designer label on the clothes we wear, the country club we belong to and the size house we own.

We’re on the consumer treadmill. We spend most of our time and energy attempting to improve our status. But no matter how many things we collect — bigger house, car and other possessions — shortly after we get them, the satisfaction from having them fades.

So we set out to get even more. We want the newest, latest model and the bragging rights that go with it. But no matter how much we get, there’s always someone who has more, someone with a bigger or better version of whatever we’ve struggled to get.

The consumer treadmill is a losing proposition, and we need to realize that. The more we stake our contentment in life on external things, the less content we’ll be.

My suggestion is to get off the consumer treadmill. Instead of striving to get more, see how you can get by on less. See what things you can eliminate from your life. Decide what is truly important to you.

Try shifting your focus from getting to giving. What can you do to improve life for others? What actions can you take that will add value to the world?

Our consumer-driven society is draining the earth’s resources. We’re now consuming at an unsustainable rate. When you consider that we’re not even getting the joy we expected, it’s clearly a no-win scenario.

How much would your life improve if you got off the consumer treadmill?

Your happiness can only be found within.
Epictetus
55 -135 A.D.

Copyright © 2019 John Chancellor


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