The Key to Buying Happiness

Posted by Jill Chivers in Shopping Strategies

A recent article in Psychology Today shared the findings of 3 new studies into buying behaviour.  I love reading about these studies – it’s so intriguing to read about how they set the study up, what its hypothesis was, what the findings were, and what sense we can make of it in our world – the world of the individual consumer, trying to make good decisions that they’ll feel happy about longer after the ink has dried on the receipt.

This article, which you can read in full here, cited a study named “Damned if they do, damned if they don’t” which came to the conclusion that some buyers are unhappy if they buy material goods, and just as unhappy if they buy experiences.

This flies in the face of other research which says we are happier if we buy experiences.

The problem dissatisfied buyers identified was that they didn’t feel they were expressing their true personality when they made purchasing decisions.

Does this purchase reflect your personality?

Does this purchase reflect your personality?

The article goes on to say “When it comes to making purchases, a key to happiness is identity expression: Does a particular purchase express your personality and values? If it does, you are likely to feel happier. In other words, to be happy, “know thyself.” Then act on that knowledge.”

This gels with me on some important levels.

Certainly when it comes to clothing, fashion and style, I have been talking here for some time about the importance of self-expression as being the key driver to finding your style — not in following fashion.  I’ve written about this many times but notably here and here.

The article suggests 3 ways to find your sense of self through shopping:

  1. Before you make a purchase (or other decision), pause and ask yourself: Have decisions like this made me happy in the past?
  2. Then ask yourself: What kind of person am I now? What is really important to me? What would someone like me do in this situation?
  3. Finally, ask yourself: What kind of person do I want to become? What kind of decisions will make me happy in my future life?

And finally, the Psychology Today article suggest that “These three questions bring your past, present, and future selves together to help you get better at expressing your values and personality. Over time, you will have a stronger sense of who you are and who you want to become. ”

Does this purchase reflect my personality?

Does this purchase reflect my personality?

I like those 3 questions, and that conclusion, a lot.  It resonates with the messages I live by and propose to others when it comes to conscious shopping:

Important questions for conscious shopper:

  • Consider the place shopping in your life – is shopping in its rightful place in your life? Or does it take up too much time, energy, feelings and thought?  You may want to consider what makes you happy (something I have been exploring over the last 7 months)
  • Explore, playfully and lightfully, what forms of style express who you are.  Style is a dynamic, living thing as it expresses something that, even if it has a solid foundation, is also dynamic alive – us!  Liberating your style insight is always a work in progress.
  • Consider your style, and your shopping, in the overall context of your life.  Your life is far too important to spend it.  Living your life is a form of self expression – your life should be lived, fully, richly and on your own terms.

Certainly this is something I have personally folded into my own buying behaviour – understanding why I buy and the importance of personality and values in that equation has made my shopping much more conscious.

Being true to you, and at a deep level not just on the surface, is certainly the key to being happy with the shopping you choose to do, but in living a life that you love.



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