This introductory chapter provides an overview of the main theme of the book and details the contents of the chapters contained in it. It presents data from research on the connection between having a sense of well-being and economic growth, both for individuals and the society as a whole. The general consensus that a sense of well-being does not arise from objective material possessions but from subjective resources and social comparisons is highlighted in this chapter, including the disillusionment of people with capitalism and people's increased concern over the damage that excessive consumption is causing to society and the environment. This chapter discusses as well the move of societies and individuals to a post-consumer ethos that emerged against the backdrop of inequality. As part of this simplifying movement, individuals sought means of improving the quality of their own lives, and of those around them, through adopting alternative methods to those espoused by the economic system.
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