If someone asked you if shopping makes you happy, your immediate answer would probably be, "Yes." After all, it is called retail therapy for a reason. But how happy does it make you, really?
In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, authors Elizabeth W. Dunn, Daniel T. Gilbert, and Timothy D. Wilson tackle the relationship between money and happiness. The title of the study pretty much sums it up: "If money doesn’t make you happy, you’re probably not spending it right."
They listed down rules to follow to maximize happiness from shopping. TheAtlantic.com breaks it down for us in "Shop Yourself Happy," published on November 27, 2014:
1. Buy experiences, not things.
Material things wear and tear over time, but memories last forever. Think about it—10 years from now, what are you going to reminisce on: the P5,000 sparkly dress you bought, or your Bali trip with your barkada?
2. Help others, not yourself.
Because humans are social beings, spending on other people and seeing how happy it makes them will make you happy as well. Sure, trying on those perfect heels make you feel fabulous, but seeing your mom's face light up when you tell her you bought that pair for her? Priceless.
3. Buy lots of little things, rather than one big thing.
People tend to lose interest pretty quickly, so it would make more sense to spend on many little items instead of a major one. For example: Buying three P500 tops would be more gratifying than buying a cute but expensive bedside lamp (which you don't even get to use that often). The authors explain, "Because frequent small pleasures are different each time they occur, they forestall adaptation."
4. Buy now, consume later.
Delayed gratification gives us something to look forward to. The anticipation of finally getting to use whatever we purchased makes it more satisfying.
5. Follow the herd.
When a new fad or trend emerges, it piques the interest of the masses. The fact that so many people are into it must mean it's worth trying out, right? So don't be afraid to join the bandwagon (Seriously, haters gonna hate). The writers quote the 17th century author François de La Rochefoucauld in saying, “Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us first examine how happy those are who already possess it.”
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