There is an old Chinese saying that health is wealth. Within English speaking westernised cultures, the acquisition of wealth itself has become the dominant way of living, with sometimes disastrous results on many people’s health.
In his fascinating book Affluenza, psychologist Oliver James outlines the frightening correlation between self-centred capitalism and emotional ill health.
He defines Affluenza as a set of values which increase your vulnerability to emotional distress. Where emotional distress is defined as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and personality disorders.
And it is a life-style which places an excessively high value on financial and material wealth, on physical appearance and on wanting to be famous.
At the core of the problem is that we have become obsessed (almost hypnotised) with measuring ourselves and others through the distorting values of Affluenza. This happens to such an extent, that we can end up defining our happiness in terms of what we do not have and measuring ourselves against people we can never be.
Ironically, it is most prevalent in western English speaking cultures where the mantras of self-centred capitalism rule. These are cultures where the values of being human have been replaced by measurements of having.
When we focus on being as an internal state we can interact more fully with our world, without the need to obsessively control or destroy it. And when we focus on having, we begin to intellectualise the world we live in and to create an internal and external distancing. As a result we create a never ending cycle of irrational consumption in order to fill the void.
This consumption is irrational in the sense that it fails to differentiate between our genuine needs and externally created wants. Where the externally created wants are generated for us by advertising, marketing promotions and mass media.
A highly recommended book:
© David R. Durham