That is the way how potential gifts are advertised during Christmas time. Though, Christmas time is meant to be contemplative and full of love, where values and traditions mean something and are lived. In reality, we are facing consuming frenzy in Christmas time but also the whole year due to the desire for a growing living standard instead of living quality. There is a constant pressure on people to have bigger, better and more – a certain lifestyle and certain looks. Psychologists explain this behavior as follows: goods and products enhance someone´s own status which is a way to obtain acceptance. People consume to compensate empty spaces in their life. Especially children and young adults are affected of brands as the centre of economization. Economists describe the current situation as follows: The average Austrian household for example spends 43.325€ in 2011 for private and non-private consumption – 2.3% more than 2010. Due to price increase and fear of inflation Austrians have saved up to 18% less money in the last two years. Both explanations certainly help to understand and cause consideration, but they don´t effect sustainable behaviour modification.
As quite well known, we are living in a consumer, respectively wasteful society. We know about the consequences of an excessive consumption – like outsourcing of mass production to low-wage countries, extensive raw material consumption, massive CO2 emissions that leads to climate change, – and we also know about different solution approaches as various films, books and other media aiming at awareness raising show. We know about our changing society where (social) isolation, unhappiness, depression, the pursuit of money and power become the rule than the exception. Synonymously quality-of-life surveys in the United States that have been done since the 1950s give the clear result about wealth not bringing as much contentment as people would have thought. Data from Andrew Oswald, professor of economics at the University of Warwick in Great Britain show that while the amount of suicides stayed quite the same since the 1900s the average income sextupled. The booming sector of the economics of happiness reveals the importance and urgency of a mind shift. What counts is the satisfaction of basic needs such as accommodation, food and employment as more money and according to this more possibilities for consuming only lifts someone spirits short term. People don´t recognize material wealth absolutely but compare themselves with richer people who always exist. So, happiness does not grow with income, as the quintessence of a survey in 37 countries, including 9 developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and 11 East European countries on transition to market economy by Richard Easterlin, economist at the University of California in Los Angeles, and his team is.
We are aware of all that since the term sustainability came into vogue but we have not defined our very own solution by now. Not the way Bhutan has done with the Gross National Happiness (GNH) in 1972 as an indicator that measures the quality of life than only using the economic factor Gross Domestic Product. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance. Although criticized as it depends on more subjective factors, it nevertheless shows the importance of contentedness as our basic living and happiness factor. Such exemplary measures deserve imitation and should form our New Year´s resolution. It might be no final solution but a beginning.