Surveys are constantly showing people are unhappy, working more than any other generation in history while simultaneously spending at record rates. Where then is the disconnect? Maybe there is another problem we aren't addressing? Maybe we are treating the symptoms of the problems rather than the root cause.
When do you feel most tempted to buy something? For me its when I'm having a rough day or feel mentally "off". Frustrating day? Big cookie or chocolate bar looks even tastier than before. Car making a weird noise? Never a worse day of envy watching all the new cars and trucks drive past my office window. Basically put, whenever I find myself in a weak spot I start feeling incomplete in some form and start looking for a remedy.
But why do the majority of us turn to things as a way to fill these incomplete feelings? A very large majority of it comes from the fact we are the most marketed to people in the whole of human history. From the time we get up to the time we lay back down we are constantly bombarded with people trying to sell us things, trying to exploit our feelings and show their product as the key to our happiness. So we buy and buy in a never ending futile attempt to purchase a feeling of fulfillment and contentedness.
So is there anything we can do to compete against this? Actually yes, but it takes dedication to becoming much more self aware. Taking the time to learn about yourself and what your real dreams and desires are, not just the visions of life that are being sold to you. It also takes becoming consciously aware of how you are spending both your time and our money. Once you have a firm grip on these things it becomes easier to start focusing on things that will bring actual value into your life, and bring a greater sense of contentment to you as a result.