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Abstract

One of the main human goals is to achieve the state of happiness. Almost all people ask themselves the question of how to attain this goal. For thousands of years, philosophers and spiritual leaders and, nowadays, researchers representing various disciplines of social sciences, have been searching for the right answer to this question. One of the dilemmas intertwined in the debate about the essence of happiness relates to the tension expressed by the question “to be or to have”; the tension between the spiritual and the material world; between sacrum and profanum. Can accumulation of money and material possessions make us happy? Starting with the message passed on by a German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in his essay “To Have or to Be” and the wisdom derived from the classic philosophical and religious works, I will attempt to define the relation between the state of happiness and the attachment to money and possessions or the attachment to social and transcendent values. This difficult, yet crucial, problem will be analyzed in the context of the current psychological knowledge related to the emotional and cognitive consequences of taking a materialistic approach to life. Erich Fromm and other thinkers who had lived hundreds of years before him, suggested that greed and pursuit of material possessions did not appease the human longing for happiness. The latest experimental research, conducted by psychologists, economists and scholars representing other disciplines of science, seem to strongly confirm these assumptions.
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