Have you ever seen an item in the store that you just had to have, that awesome jacket or those kick-ass pair of shoes that would be just perfect for yourself, only to check the price tag and have that image of yourself owning that item shattered to pieces? Let’s not kid ourselves, we’ve all been there. We tell ourselves that one day we’ll own that piece of clothing or that latest bit of technology, we’ll save up and work harder, while looking longingly, borderline enviously, at those that are fortunate enough to already possess said items.
Our lives have become fueled by the urge to buy stuff. Stuff we don’t need, stuff that we THINK we want, stuff we think is going to make us happy once we own it. So we work our butts off, we hit that grind hard and fast, while the entire time fantasizing about how we are going to buy said item and then be happy. Then the day comes and we purchase the much-anticipated product, and we are happy, our brains are making it rain dopamine (the hormone that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers) and it is utter bliss, until…it fades away.
The pleasure we feel from dropping our hard earned cash on that “must have” product does not last. In time the item you bought just blends into your life like the multitude of other things you’ve purchased in your life. What happens next? We find ourselves chasing after the next thing that we have convinced ourselves is going to make us happy. Where does it all end? Do we just work and spend for the rest of our lives? That doesn’t seem healthy at all.
I myself am guilty of overindulging in retail therapy. After a hard week of studying or after a difficult time I find myself yearning to treat myself to some online shopping because the notion is that it will make everything okay, except it doesn’t. I’m content for a while and then that fades and it’s back to the grind. It’s a constant, never-ending cycle.
I have recently come to a realization that this deep urge to splash cash is not entirely our fault. Companies spend millions of Rands on advertising and the people in charge of advertising are very good at their job. They study the human psyche and use it against us. They make it seem like you need this product, that you will be left behind if you don’t have this product and of course that you will be so much happier if you own this product. It is genius on their part and borderline evil. I say evil because a company wants you to buy their product no matter what, without a care about your financial situation. They aren’t going to say “look bro, I think one vacuum cleaner is enough for you.” No, they will say “Two vacuum cleaners will suit your active lifestyle perfectly bro! In fact, if you buy a second vacuum cleaner today we’ll throw in a third for half the price.” Now you own three vacuum cleaners, one for inside the house, one for outside and one to clean the other two, all the while your brain swims in dopamine.
It’s completely outrageous! But how do we stop ourselves? What can we do to stop this constant overindulging?
What it comes down to is finding a better, less expensive way to be happy or ideally something that makes you happy and makes you money at the same time. Mrs. Pineapple’s mother has found delight is upcycling certain household objects and sells them for a profit. I found her story rather inspiring as she found a way to get her hobby to make her some money and that’s exactly what we need.
There are so many opportunities out there for joy that don’t cost very much, we have just got to step out of our comfort zones and open ourselves to new experiences. Take a walk on the beach, read a good book from the local library (yes they still exist), have a hearty chat with a close friend, all these things don’t cost a thing and yet I can guarantee you they will bring happiness into your life. You just need to find something that works for you.
So let’s break the cycle and try to find happiness in more interesting (and hopefully cost-free) ways. Your future self will thank you and your bank balance will be a lot fatter.
Next week I’ll be attempting to come up with a list of endeavors that will be better suited for your hard earned cash and more worthwhile in the long run. If you have any suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Till next time…
Be wild, weird and wonderful.