More About How Your Happiness Got Hijacked
Today’s marketplace offers you an overwhelming number of ways to spend your money. Your money supply is less than the business world needs you to spend. The solution: influence you to buy more than you would do if left to your own devices. The method: get you to believe that excessive consumerism is your ticket to happiness.
Many in government have held a frightening belief about our basic animal nature. We are dangerous. We are impulsive. We are susceptible to being manipulated. These leaders fear these dangers are so great that they believe they need to contain and control our animal nature for us.
Guess who their search for strategies to accomplish this led them to? The marketers who had been hired by the business world to reframe happiness as excessive consumerism. And voila! Consumerism was the most elegant solution to meet both their objectives. Consumerism could create a docile society. It could create economic growth. And it could make businesses in need of hyperactive consumers wealthy.
This was the birth of what became known as “The American Dream.”
Goals That Birthed The American Dream
After World War II the government sought social stability because many feared that what had happened in Germany could happen anywhere. The government at that time also sought to shift businesses from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy. The business world sought a larger share of workers’ paychecks.
Manipulation Strategy: Manufacturing Consent for The American Dream
- Conformity: A cookie-cutter house in a cookie-cutter neighborhood (the home with a white picket fence). Pre-packaged foods. Strong social pressure to look like the Leave It to Beaver family. Job security – work for a big company, follow the rules, keep your job for life, retire with a solid pension. Conformity and stable high employment made the government feel secure.
- Materialism: Pressure to Get Ahead (“Keeping up with the Jonses”). Nicer furniture. All the modern conveniences. A new car or two in the driveway Nice vacations. Businesses getting a larger share of workers’ paychecks made them feel more secure.
The American Dream became the new happiness formula. The manufacturers of consent made excessive consumerism as American as apple pie.
Results of The American Dream
Excessive consumerism and citizen docility. Equating consumerism with both happiness and patriotism was a stroke of marketing genius. Equating a steady job and a reliable retirement with happiness was also a stroke of genius: it made obedience to businesses and the government socially palatable.
The American Dream was replaced in the 1980s with a more diverse plan. It was called Lifestyle Marketing. But the goals remain the same. Excessive consumerism would keep citizens docile. It would make businesses wealthier. The economy would expand. And thus the tax base would grow.
But the most tragic result of The American Dream (and the Lifestyle Marketing approach that followed it) was that people never attained sustainable happiness no matter how faithful they were to the “happiness = excessive consumerism” formula.
This happiness formula is fundamentally faulty. It needs to be replaced. Click on the link below to find out the sustainable happiness formula it needs to be replaced with.