Friday, 27 April 2007

personal peace and affluence

A recent study reported in today's Sydney Morning Herald suggests Sydney's most affluent people may be among the most selfish in South East Asia. A survey of the richest 20% of 5 cities showed that Sydneysiders' highest saving and spending priorities were for their own pleasure, such as retirement, travel and new hobbies, well ahead of their children's education and leaving an inheritance for their children, which are generally the highest priorities in the other cities.

There may of course be reasons other than selfishness for these preferences, but the study does support the conclusions of other observers, such as psychologist Oliver James, who visited Sydney recently and met people who were affluent but, he felt, had empty lives.

Author Francis Shaeffer observed decades ago that the main ethical values of modern capitalist society were "personal peace and affluence". Psychologist Ed Diener said: “Materialism is toxic to happiness”.

I think we mostly all know that focusing our lives and energies on becoming wealthy does not bring satisfaction and wellbeing (see how to be happy? for more detail on this), so why do we so often fall into the trap?

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