When we were young, the majority of our clothes came from older brother and sisters, cousins, or family friends. Hand-me-downs filled our closets, and as little tykes, the idea of wearing old, pre-worn clothes probably did not bother us. As we grew, however, we began to want our clothes. The thought of wearing hand-me-downs was embarrassing, as all the cool kids were wearing their fresh Abercrombie jeans, and Aeropostale polos. From a young age, we are told that what we wear, what we buy, and the kind of car our parents drive define who we are and what we are worth. We are a society defined by the things we have and have come to believe that the answer to happiness is more stuff.


The Story of Stuff is a short informational video that origins and history of stuff in United States society. The video details how American society came to “throw-away” society, based on consumerism and how much we buy. One of the most interesting points made is since the 1950’s, where this idea of a “throw-away” society began to take shape, our overall happiness as a country has steadily declined. This means that as we were able to produce and consume more materials, as a whole we have become less happy people.


If the acquisition of materials only serves to make us less happy, then why do we continue to buy more and more? It is because of this idea that if we do not have the latest clothing or technology, we are not worth as much as the person who does. Just a few years ago, there were hundreds of various cell phone models, most of which did not have access to the internet. Now, it seems there are only a few popular models, and not having a phone that connects to the internet means you are out of the loop.


Having material objects is not a bad thing; they are necessary in order to function and live in our world. It is when we define ourselves by the things we have — or more importantly, the things we do not have — that we get stuck in an endless cycle where enough is never enough, while trying to keep up with the Joneses.


Instead of finding your value in the materials you own, and wishing for the things you do not have, find your worth in who you are and the people you surround yourself with. If you do, you may find the happiness has never been all that expensive after all.


What are your thoughts on stuff and happiness? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @whatsthesich