I love that you never quite know what to expect when you come to my blog. Fitness, health, travel, psychology ... I relish having total editorial control over content! Now, prepare yourselves as I'm about to go off on a topic that I'm extremely passionate about. This chart comes from my Human Growth and Development class textbook (Lifespan Development, Feldman).
What you are about to see may shock and disturb you. These are the collective responses of college students when asked what they value most in life. The data collection began in the 1960's and was collected yearly from college students up until 2006. I apologize the white line is virtually impossible to see, but we'll be looking more at the other one's anyways.
- The first year of the study the most important thing to college students was developing a meaningful philosophy of life (85% saying it was important)
- Being well off financially was next to last on the list (40% saying it was important)
By 2006 those values switched and being well off financially was important to over 70% of college students while less than 50% valued having a meaningful philosophy of life.
What in the world happened? You can see things started to go haywire around 1978. Since I wasn't around at that time I can only hypothesize what may have been happening in our country to cause such a shift in values. There was a general growth in the economy in America in the 1960's that was squashed with the Vietnam war in the early to mid 70's. By the time the end of the decade rolled around perhaps more college students valued financial security since they grew up watching their parents face difficult financial burdens. Wikipedia goes so far as to say the 1970's were perhaps the worst decade of most industrialized countries' economic performance since the Great Depression!
Whatever the cause - I don't think it's a coincidence that the rates of depression and anxiety have gone up as money has been increasingly valued over developing a meaningful philosophy in life.
This Psychology Today article discusses the results of recent research that has found 5 to 8 times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for major depression and/or anxiety disorders as was true 50 years ago. Am I saying this is exclusively due to the shift in values? Absolutely not, but I am convinced that is has played a significant role in the increase of mood disorders.
In case you haven't figured it out already I'm going to give you an epic life lesson: money does not buy happiness. I will talk about this in much greater length at some point (or this post will turn into my book proposal) but numerous studies have found that once you make about 75,000 a year - whatever your happiness level is at the time it will not increase significantly if you were to jump to making 300,000 a year, or 3,000,000 a year.
Our society doesn't want you to believe that! You must have the most fashionable clothes and cars to be happy. Buy, buy, buy! But - what happens when those items are no longer fashionable in 6 months? Well, you've got to buy more! Where does the cycle end?
Research has found that using your money to buy experiences versus things will lead to much greater satisfaction. Take a trip, learn a new skill, go out to eat. Those memories will become far more valuable to you than your coach purse - I promise.