Affluenza

The word today is affluenza . the unhealthy and unwelcome psychological and social effects of affluence regarded especially as a widespread societal problem: such asa :  feelings of guilt, lack of motivation, and social isolation experienced by wealthy people <Even so, psychologists are slowly recognizing that great riches are sometimes accompanied by a wealth of crippling emotional and psychological fears. Affluenza can be acute, striking lottery winners or newly minted doctors and M.B.A.s. It can also be a chronic and pervasive condition in families where riches extend through generations. — Anastasia Toufexis et al., Time Magazine, 29 Feb. 1988>b :  extreme materialism and consumerism associated with the pursuit of wealth and success and resulting in a life of chronic dissatisfaction, debt, overwork, stress, and impaired relationships <Affluenza is particularly rampant in the United States, where we place a high priority on financial success and material possessions. — David Hawkins, Breaking Everyday Addictions, 2008> http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/affluenza

Not sure they got the definition right however! Affluenza to me comes with a certain amount of self absorption or narcissism –  another word we tend to use more today. Like my last blog about how to help children build resilience, affluenza’s primary cause seems to be when children are given everything without any part in earning something. I have been guilty of helping to create children with affluenza.  When kids say “But Mom, everyone else has a …..” it is easy to get caught up in wanting your kids to have nice things too. At least for me, life is more about being, doing, and serving others and less about having, especially for the middle and upper classes. But our retailers and marketers are so good at duping us into believing the “good life” is about having stuff. How do we stop affluenza?  By monitoring screen time, spending time together, and helping our children learn the value of saving and earning to get some of the “things” they want.

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