We seek the good ones, we shun the bad ones, and we’re often trying to trade up. When someone feels guilty, they’ll trade this guilt for a sense goodwill by buying a gift or making a gesture.
Every action we make is motivated by an emotion. Money can help us buy positive emotions, but at the end of the day it is not our real currency, it is just a tool.
And so looking at the world this way, we can evaluate “wealth” simply by our frequency and intensity of positive emotions.
I believe that if the world shifted to this perception of wealth, then many would feel comfortable with less material goods. And while you may argue that the above merely incites hedonism, at the end of the day people ultimately have the ability to deduce that no sustainable source of positive emotion can come from selfishness.