Currently in the world, there is a growing trend for – ironically – degrowth, which is defined as ‘downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet’ (degrowth.org). This movement deviates from the heretofore cultural norm of economic growth and instead aspires for a lifetime of sustainability, balance, and sharing rather than environmental destruction, inequality, and consumption.
Degrowth can mean different things to different people. To me, it means not simply buying new things for the fun of it. It means not using retail therapy as a way of improving my mood on a bad day. It means taking the time to buy good, local ingredients and to cook a healthy and delicious meal instead of going to McDonalds. It means spending less time working in order to make a large company wealthy, and more time working on the things that are important to me that make my soul feel rich.
The world and its resources are finite. Therefore, if we view expansion as our only possibility, there will eventually be a time when that bubble expands as far as it can and inevitably bursts. A big problem in the world is the us-versus-them mentality, which means many corporations, governments or populations perceive their growth to be superior to the well-being of other companies, nations, ethnicities, cultures, species, or environments.
If we look on a smaller scale, our personal desire to ‘succeed’ at life by climbing the corporate ladder, being the best salesperson, buying a bigger house or keeping up with the latest fashions are in fact counterproductive to our health and happiness. We ignore our bodies and minds in order to work overtime, in order to get that big promotion, in order to appear successful to others.
Reevaluating our lives and priorities may in fact help us to find the happiness that we have been searching for.