How to be Happier and More Eco-Friendly

Just buy less stuff!

The happiest consumers in America are also the most eco-friendly, and the reason why is a surprise.

Research presented to the American Psychological Association (APA) tells us that buying less stuff actually makes us happy.

Humans seem plagued with unquenchable want. We want everything. We want money, food, land, animal products, cars, homes, designer clothes, etc, and we want a lot of it. Several  philosophies have taught for thousands of years that this constant desire for “things” leads to unhappiness and depression.

A presentation at the APA’s August 2014 conference used concrete data to demonstrate that consumers who focus less on material possessions are, in fact, happier and healthier. These happy consumers are also far more environmentally friendly and much less wasteful than their peers.

It’s certainly no surprise that society’s rampant consumerism and “throw away” culture is a blight on the natural world, but this study marks the first time the issue has been directly linked to the emotional well-being of consumers.

Miriam Tatzel, PhD of Empire State College, State University of New York explained research findings that imply changing the consumer mindset is the key to changing consumer habits.

For example, in Tatzel’s presentation she lists these traits that improve both consumer and environmental well-being:

Image courtesy APA.

Image courtesy APA.

Who can argue that a person with these qualities will likely be happier and healthier than those of us who strive for more income and material possessions?  Less consumerism equals less waste, and less energy needed to produce goods and keep gadgets running.

Tatzel summarized it best saying;

Peoples’ wants escalate as they tire of what they have and they want something else, which in turn leads to more consumption and more waste in landfills, more energy consumed and more carbon emitted into the atmosphere. The larger the gap between what one wants and what one has, the greater the dissatisfaction. Less materialism equals more happiness.

It’s a win-win . . .  if we can pull it off.

We’ve identified the roots of our environmentally destructive behavior. It is going to take a lot of time and work to rethink our priorities and value quality of life over quantity of possessions, and even more importantly, to stop defining our quality of life by the quantity of our possessions.

So, where do we find a therapist who can help us work through all of this?



Related Articles:

Quiz: Which Renewable Energy Source Are You?
How to Become an A-Lister: Go Electric!
How to Save the Earth in 10 Days

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  • http://www.orgoneemfprotection.com Erik

    Yes. yes yes!!!! Absolutely brilliant. I have been trying to tell everyone I know that buying stuff actually makes you more tied down and less happy. Whenever you walk into someones home and they have allot of stuff allot of clutter, they generally are not happy. I used to do home deliveries and always could tell who was the most unhappy because they have the most stuff. Less is more. Do more buy less and be more happy. Thanks for preaching the positive word brother

  • Jessica Kennedy

    Thanks Erik! Less stuff saves you money too! You’re totally right and I’m glad to see someone out there already joining the movement for fewer “things.” I’m going to start downsizing my clutter too after learning that too much stuff in my life might be part of what’s making me stressed out. We need to be happy with the essentials! and spend our money going out and living life to the fullest.
    Thanks again for the comment! Spread the word!