Have you ever felt like you are constantly struggling to “keep up with the Joneses?” That you need more, bigger and better things all the time? This is the very definition of the condition affluenza. A portmanteau of the words influenza and affluence, affluenza seems to affect an increasing number of people every year. One of the more visible effects of this condition was the housing and mortgage collapse that has affected the country since the economic decline.
People, on average, spend 6 hours a week shopping, while they spend nearly no time with family or friends. There is some strange need, even a drive to acquire more things, even things which are beyond our ability to afford them. The results (debt, stress and anxiety) only make these possessions seem less valuable over time. What is ironic is that even those who have achieved wealth through hard work rarely feel satisfied with the products of their efforts.
The hyper-commercialism that is common in the United States has spread to other countries, teaching people, even children, that enough is never really enough. While the gap between those who have enough and those who don’t just keeps growing, bankruptcies as well as landfills are increasing exponentially.
If you are familiar with people who seem to have everything but are still unhappy, you are probably witnessing a clear case of affluenza. The cure, which sounds simple but apparently isn’t is to learn to be happy with fewer material possessions, and to enjoy those intangible benefits that come from personal interaction instead. As Proverbs 28:8 says – “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.”