Every once in a while you run across and exploratory research study that makes a lot of common sense and seems to speak directly to some of the common failings of our times.

Bluntly, one of the lies of modern society is that of the “rugged individual” — the person who in the words of Sinatra’s charming song, “did it my way” without help from anyone else.

It’s a cute myth. A more religious person might look at it as the replacement of belief in a divine being with ego. However, a pragmatic person simply looks at it as a lie. There’s no way that a newborn becomes a leader, a great thinker, a writer, or anything else without a lot of help from a variety of sources. There may be family money, or teachers, or mentors and roll-models, co-workers or some combination of all of these. No one achieves without help in some form from many along the way. Basically, selfishness is the failure to acknowledge one’s debts.

Which brings us to a charming study about how to raise children to be less materialistic. Apparently, according to this research, the antidote to excessive materialism is teaching children the concept of gratitude. And apparently that can be taught.(1/2)

Of course, the concept links to Aristotle’s “Golden Mean.” Excess in the pursuit of anything becomes a problem.


  1. Lan Nguyen Chaplin, Deborah Roedder John, Aric Rindfleisch, Jeffrey J. Froh. The impact of gratitude on adolescent materialism and generosity. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2018.1497688
  2. University of Illinois at Chicago. “How to avoid raising a materialistic child.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 October 2018. <>.


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