To Shop Or Not To Shop? That Is The Question!
Updated: Jun 18, 2018
Studies have shown that materialistic people are less happy and less psychologically healthy than non-materialistic people and that new material possessions and purchases only sustain happiness for a short period. Consumerism is a never-ending cycle because, when we try to to fill emotional or spiritual voids with material things, we only get a fleeting, temporary ‘happiness’. The joy of the latest purchase quickly wanes and instead of finding inner sources of contentment we look externally for gratification via another shopping fix.
If you feel stuck in an unhappy consumerist cycle and want to be more intentional with your purchasing, here are some practical tips:
Wait. Resist the urge to impulse buy. Give it a couple of days to mull over a purchase. Challenge yourself. Why do you think you need it now? How have you managed without it so far? Do you have something else that could do the job? Is it really so much better than the previous version? Will you use all the new features or improved functionality?
Know yourself and avoid temptation. Unsubscribe from catalogues & marketing emails, stay away from the shops or leave your purse/wallet at home, ignore Facebook ads and resist clickbait, use an online ad blocker, don’t browse mindlessly, fast forward through TV ads.
Think about the true cost to you of buying something - how many hours of work are needed to offset the purchase? Also, how many hours will you have to spend setting it up, cleaning, maintaining, fixing and ultimately disposing of it. As Henry David Thoreau said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” Even if something is on sale or seems like a bargain, it still has a cost in terms of time, stress, and money. Try to resist and save up for a more thoughtful (& necessary) purpose.
Be critical of advertising. Be cynical, look beyond the intended message and notice the manipulation. Don’t buy into the nonsense “sense of urgency” marketeers create. If you are still tempted to buy, go online and read only the bad reviews!
Don’t worry about conforming. You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses or be a slave to fashion. You are unique and can find your own way and your own style.
Do you need to own it? Could you borrow or hire it instead?
Consider the cost to the planet - the pollution and waste of resources. Think about the greedy corporations, the exploitation of workers, the unfair wages, the child labour and the unsafe working conditions. Boycott unethical companies instead of lining their pockets.
Look inwards, explore your motivations, and discover the true source of your shopping urges. What void are your trying to fill with consumerism? Tap into how you are really feeling, or find a therapist who can help you do this, and start dealing with the deeper issues.
Strive for more emotional and spiritual fulfilment: enjoy time with your partner, friends and family, indulge your children or pets, get back to nature, walk, garden, exercise, play sport, grow stuff, paint, draw, cook, sing, volunteer, develop your skills or learn something new.
Instead of spending money on more “stuff”, invest in life experiences which you can share with others, it is suggested that more happiness longterm comes when there is social connection or bonding involved.
Set yourself goals -“I won’t go to the shopping centre for 1 month”, “I won’t buy any clothes for 3 months”. In time extend or broaden these challenges.
Be on guard. As Joshua Becker states: “Renew your commitment daily. We are bombarded every single day with advertisements from nearly every flat surface we encounter. Rejecting and overcoming consumerism is a daily battle. Expect it to be such. And recommit every morning—or every hour if necessary.”
If and when you do actually need to buy something, shop with the mantra: “Buy less, choose well, make it last”. Quality over quantity wins!
....And if you need some help decluttering purchases which no longer make you happy, or organising those that do, then get in touch, I'd love to help you Rule Your Roost!