What do you call an illness of the mind and heart to endlessly chase material goods in the pursuit of happiness? Think 'affluence' + 'influenza' = 'affluenza'. Based on a PBS documentary, there is a book that explains what this is all about. On the back cover jacket of the book, the authors give a pseudo-dictionary definition.
affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. (Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic; John D Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H. Naylor; Berrett Koehler; San Fransisco; 2001)
The problem is that affluenza is easier to detect as a condition of a society or large group, but it is difficult to diagnose ourselves. I think a large part of that difficulty is because we don't want to look at ourselves, especially in that way. But even if we successfully divert attention away from ourselves as we point to the society in which we live as suffering from affluenza, we have to admit that we live in that society. I know I've said to myself and my friends that I want to "simplify my life." But what does that really mean? What have I actually accomplished to reverse this condition creeping over me? Honestly? I've gotten real good at creating a diversion. (Think I could be President someday?)
How about you? Do you think you suffer from some degree of this condition? On the other hand, do you think 'affluenza' does not apply to you? Why not? Have you told yourself or others that you want to simplify your life? How successful have you actually been? If you were successful, what did you have to do? How did you have to change your attitude and habits? If you were not successful, how honest are you being with yourself about it?
As always, I look forward to your comments. Feel free to comment on previous posts, too.