One of the mistakes we make when searching for happiness is to think that we can buy it in a store. Today, online shopping means that virtually anything you could ever want to own is a finger-tap or a mouse-click away. And with free shipping and 24-hour access, there’s no stopping us from buying anything we want, any time we want.
Celebrities sell us the idea that we can find freedom and joy through buying cosmetics and diet drinks. Our friends all seem to be living much more vibrant and joyful lives across our social media feeds. So we try to keep up by buying the same things they have. All of this consumption can leave us financially overextended and emotionally drained.
Have you been throwing money at online retailers, hoping that the next new delivery will help you find happiness? If so, you might want to take a step back and make some important adjustments to help save your budget—and your emotional health.
Put a HALT on your shopping. Do you find yourself shopping more when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? These feelings can lead us to unwise decisions. If you are feeling one of these emotions, try another option for dealing with it: have a snack, take a rest, or call a friend.
No news is good news. Do you get up-to-the-minute sale listings from online retailers? Unsubscribe from all of those email lists and push notifications so you won’t be tempted by impulse buys.
Remove temptation. Take shopping apps off your phone. That way you won’t be tempted to look for deals “just in case.” Ad blockers can help you avoid seeing targeted ads on social media.
Shop your closet first. Is there something you’ve been wanting to buy? Look through what you have already. Chances are, you already have one of those items or something pretty close to it. And if you have a lot of new or gently used clothes you don’t want or never got around to returning, you can always sell them online or donate them to a nearby shelter or charity.
Take a step back. Remember that you are not defined by your clothes or your possessions. You are enough already, right now, just the way you are. You don’t need anyone else’s approval.
Happiness isn’t something you can get with your bank account. But you can still earn interest on it—by sharing it with others. When you spread happiness and love around to your friends (or to others through service and volunteering), you increase them more than you could ever imagine.
And when you feel more connected to a community that’s bigger than you and your needs, you’ll find you’re much less worried about whether you’re keeping up with the Joneses. You’ll save money, sure, but you’ll be saving yourself too.