“We have become a culture that places more importance on the appearance of success than actual success.”
~Jean Twenge, author and psychology professor
In their book, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell suggest the recession, recent political scandals, the national debt crisis, grade inflation, reality television, and materialism are all the result of an increase in narcissism.
Narcissism is defined as excessive self-love or vanity.
It’s one thing to have self-esteem or feel good about yourself, but narcissism is feeling superior or believing you’re superior when you’re really not. Twenge and Campbell write, “Not only are there more narcissists than ever, but non-narcissistic people are seduced by the increasing emphasis on material wealth, physical appearance, celebrity worship, and attention seeking.”
That means the focus on looking successful and feeling superior is a cultural trend that could very well be responsible, at least in part, for the pursuit of money and success. Twenge and Campbell cite materialism as one of the more obvious examples of narcissism in America because it’s all about buying things that communicate status and importance—expensive cars, jewelry, clothing, a nice house. They also claim this new materialism has infected many people who are not otherwise narcissistic by nature.
This provides one explanation for why so many people seem to be seeking more money, success, and material possessions.
Excerpted from “Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness.