I believe our way of life is unsustainable from a social, economic and environmental point of view.
Our societies are governed under the rules of money and power. Since 1950, multinationals, as a marketing strategy to boost consumption, have been associating the image of a successful person with someone who has plenty of material things. The more you have, the happier you are.
This association of success with consumption has global impact on societies and the way of living. On the one hand, people consume more things than needed, which has a big impact not only on the environment (creating more pollution), but also creates a lot of inequalities between countries as this way of life cannot be replicate by the whole world population. On the other hand, the pursue of success through consumption has a big impact on people´s happiness: people are attached to work and mortgages to be able to buy what they think they need (but in fact they don´t!).
Somehow, we could say that this perception of success is the new slavery of our era, a slavery that generates social inequalities, unhappiness and is squandering the environment.
To return to the path of sustainability, I think we must start by changing the way we perceive success. Success must be a consequence of the pursuit of happiness and fulfilment.
By happiness and fulfilment, I mean real and long term happiness, based on a spiritual background that makes life better and more meaningful.
By doing so, we as humans will also change the way we conceive the economy. Nowadays, the growth of the economy (especially in the US, Europe or Japan) is being sustained on “quantitative easing” or printing money, rather than in real value creation. In my opinion, the economy must be at the service of society, not vice versa. How long can a society sustain its growth on fictitious economies not covered by real value creation?
By changing our conception of success and putting the economy at the service of humanity, we indirectly would be moving towards a more sustainable way of life at all levels: social, environmental and economic.
Doing so, political decisions would be detached from economic interests and would only aim to work towards improving the quality of life. We won´t need “as many things”, so we won´t be tied to jobs, loans or mortgages, we will pollute much less and we will reduce the inequalities between countries. In addition, we won´t contribute to fatten the economic “bubble” in which we live.
As a result, we will reach an equilibrium between our wellbeing, the environment and the economy and we will contribute towards a more sustainable society, either socially, environmentally and economically.