Nicki was reading an article in her local paper recently and it got her thinking about one of her favourite pastimes.
I love shopping for nice things…clothes and shoes mostly but really anything and I really enjoy finding gifts for other people either online or on the high street, it doesn’t matter. Every purchase gives me a lift and a feeling of happiness (until my credit card statement lands on the doormat, that is).
Then I read about the ‘happiness treadmill’; a universal psychological glitch whereby we purchase something new and feel great for a while, but then inexorably, it becomes part of the backdrop of our lives and is no longer the great source of joy that it once was when we first bought it. I thought about all the things I buy, ranging from the day-to-day necessities to more expensive items of clothing or household goods that I treat myself to now and again, and asked myself whether I could be a victim of the happiness treadmill.
I like to think that I always look for good value when making my purchase, not just from a price point of view but I also ask myself is it likely to last and do I actually need it? Maybe it’s worth adding one more question to the mix: how well will it resist the happiness treadmill? When my initial lift has worn off and I’m used to it will it still deliver that great feeling?
One piece of advice I read in the article was wherever possible to spend money on experiences rather than ‘things’ or material possessions. That spa break I’ve been needing for some time would be a treat in itself, but should also provide lasting memories and health benefits hopefully. With this in mind, purchasing some new gym gear to take with me on my spa break would surely add to the comfort and help create the good experience? That’s all the justification I need!
When considering whether or not to purchase non-essential items, there are other apparently useful factors relating to the happiness treadmill, such as novelty. A food you’ve never previously tasted or a gadget of a kind you’ve never owned is much more likely to create an experience that will last the test of time. Another is sociability; anything that triggers interactions with others is more likely to lead to happiness. My favourite factor is knowledge of our own passions. I love the gym, so I can be pretty confident I’d get a thrill from that new gym gear for quite some time (just in case I needed any more convincing!) I’d be wasting my money if I spent a lot of money on the latest phone, as they genuinely don’t interest me that much.
The last piece of advice I intend to heed next time I purchase something is to ask myself what my life would be like without it. This is a great shortcut to feeling gratitude towards the things we already own but also a real test of whether the new purchase will be a valuable one.
As the article puts it:
‘Not all purchases are created equal – a wise buy can deliver long-term happiness’