How can we re-define success at an individual level? And how can we break free from enormous pressures to consume excessively?

This video shares a discussion with Natasha Parker from Global Action Plan about how consuming less can lead to greater wellbeing and how gratitude is an antidote to distraction and disconnection in our consumerist society.

This is a recording of a webinar that forms part of a free ‘Building Wellbeing Together’ webinar series from the Network of Wellbeing (NOW).

Please note: Our discussion starts at about 3:08, and if you’re short of time and would like to watch the highlights please scan down to find these listed.


At 5:05: Thinking at an individual level can help us to re-define success. Ask yourself, ‘What does a successful/happy life look like for me?’ Reflect, draw, mind-map etc. This can help us to eliminate pre-conceived notions of success that are prevalent in our culture and fed to us via constant advertising.

At 8:50: Think about how you spend your time, energy and money. The more we focus on materialistic (‘extrinsic’) goals of wealth, image and status, the less happy we are, because these things do not meet our real psychological needs. The more we focus on our relationships (quality not quantity), giving our time and energy to other people and to our communities, and on learning new skills, the happier we become.

At 10:10: Use the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing to have a positive impact on your wellbeing. If we fulfil our needs in this way we become less materialistic and buffer ourselves against the messages of consuming more, which are having a devastating effect on people and the other species with which we share the Earth.

At 11:05: Gratitude is an antidote to consumerism and a consumerist society. But we are relentlessly encouraged to want more and to be dissatisfied with what we have. Take a moment to pause and to feel grateful for what you have before deciding whether you need to consume more.

At 15:20: Try minimalism. We’re so easily led into consumerism by clever marketers and the dopamine hit that accompanies new purchases. But having a less cluttered home and mind helps us to make space for the genuinely important things.

At 17:58: Avoid social comparison. Through social media we constantly compare ourselves to other people’s perfectly curated lives. Research shows us that this is a really bad strategy. Advertising taps into our fear of missing out. So, try to notice when this is happening and the messages that are being fed to you. Gratitude is the antidote!

At 25:00: Avoid excessive consumption despite the emotional pressures to do so. Remember that everything we use online is free for a reason. It’s funded by excessive advertising. The more time we spend on our phones, the more exposed we are to relentless advertising messages. Be mindful and ask yourself, ‘Do I really want this? Why? Is this something that I really need in my life? How long will I use it for?’ Try to have a bigger-picture focus and consider the impact on nature before purchasing.  

At 28:30: People who engage in pro-environmental behaviours tend to be happier. The less we focus on materialistic goals, the greater our wellbeing. The less materialistic we are, the more environmentally conscious we are. This creates a beautiful, positive and virtuous circle. The things that are good for us are also good for the planet.

At 30:24: Keep on track with the changes you’d like to make in your life by using the ‘WOOP’ method.

Wish, Outcome, Obstacles, Plan

Now, take a minute or two to reflect. How can this goal also have a positive impact on other people, and/or life on Earth?

At 44:50: Trying to understand other people’s perspectives and meeting them where they are can help us to frame our conversations with others. Try not to be too zealous and remember: you can’t always convince everyone!

Join NOW’s next free webinar on ‘Building a Global Movement for Happiness and Wellbeing’ with guest Luis Gallardo, founder of Happiness Agora for a special International Day of Happiness webinar on Wednesday 20th March at 6pm (UK time). Register for your free place today.

Useful links and references:

Find out more about GAP’s pioneering work on consumerism and wellbeing.

New Economics Foundation

Centre for Understanding Social Prosperity

Wellbeing Economy Alliance

Tim Jackson, Prosperity Without Growth

Richard Layard, Happiness: Lessons From a New Science

Colin Beavan, How To Be Alive

Manfred Max-Neef

Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics

Robert F. Kennedy’s speech on how GDP measures everything except that which really matters

Watch more and share: