Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Black Friday hangover

It amazes me what people will do to save a dollar or two on a toy or some other non-essential item. People stood outside of stores on Thanksgiving night and battled each other for the best deals (one woman even used pepper spray against fellow shoppers in an attempt to secure her bargain). 

Image courtesy of Michael Nagle – AFP/Getting Images

But does any of this make us any happier? Researchers have been telling us for years that all of our stuff only increases our unhappiness, despite that quick hit we get from buying it. 

“[Shopping] is like a drug,” says James Roberts, a marketing professor at Baylor University. “Our brains releases chemicals like dopamine and serotonin which actually produce feelings of pleasure, and we can become addicted to those feelings. But money and material possessions will not bring you happiness, and not only that, they can cause more harm than good.” From Good.

 It amazes me the amount of things people believe they need to live. All of the gadgets and other junk we use a few times and then forget about. All of the items we buy to do a single specific thing can usually be done with something you already have. I just don’t understand this constant feeling that we NEED to buy things, that we do not have enough stuff, and that more stuff will make us happier. 

How to avoid the constant cycle of junk:
1. Wait. It seems like as soon as we see an item we kind of like we convince ourselves we cannot live without it. If you can make it 2 weeks without it, you don’t need it. 

2. Dig through what you already have to see if you can make your current possessions work. Also, look online for ideas of how you can make things around your house work for the job you are trying to accomplish.

3. Simple is always better. Why buy a battery powered gadget when the classic, human powered version works just as well? (This is especially true with kitchen equiptment. Why do you need a battery powered wine opener when the world has been drinking wine just fine without it for thousands of years?). 

4. When you are bored, do not go to the mall or online to shop. Read a book, exercise, find a new hobby, or ask a friend to meet you for some fair trade coffee or homemade goodies. 

5. Do not give into peer pressure. Just because the Jones have an item doesn’t mean you need it too. 

Ultimately it takes time to be happy with what you have and avoid all of things you don’t need. But doing so will not only save you money, it will also increase your happiness and contentment with the things you do have. 

So turn off that computer and stay focused on “Cyber Monday.” You do not need any of that stuff anyways, and your family and friends would really enjoy homemade gifts or pure necessities this year. 

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