Is your wardrobe bulging? Are your shelves overflowing with CDs, DVDs, books and magazines, holiday souvenirs and the like? How’s your makeup drawer? Full to overflowing, perhaps? And the kitchen? With the coffee machine and deep fat fryer, rice cooker, bread maker, food processor, kettle, pots and pans, and the rest, do you have room for anything more?
If the answer to some or all of these questions is affirmative, then you have probably reached your personal ‘peak stuff’.
The reason we ask is that the term peak stuff has been bandied about rather a lot in the opening months of 2017. It reflects the fact that the Western world is close to or has reached its peak of consumption and that our desire for more stuff, for the latest, newest, most fashionable, advanced technology consumer product or gizmo, is wearing thin.
Media comment on the subject ranges from the thought that in the developing world, people still consider that more consumer goods will enhance their happiness, to the idea that sustainability will benefit if we all buy less, although the economy will definitely suffer. There’s also evidence that people are increasingly interested in recycling, re-using and repairing what they already have. And that makes sense, especially to those who know what it’s like to be financially strained.
So where does happiness fit in? It’s pretty obvious that great wealth, and the possession of peak luxury goods, does not automatically lead to peak happiness. Indeed, the opposite often applies. Material goods are only part of the picture.
One definition of happiness that has stood the test of time is that it’s the result of achieving, over the course of a lifetime all the goods, health, wealth, knowledge, friends, etc. that leads to the perfection of human nature and to the enrichment of human life. For Christians, that must include living according to your faith and the blessings you give to others.