How to get your shopping habit under control, according to Peter Walsh
We all love the adrenaline of finding a bargain but is the urge to buy resulting in too much stuff? Peter weighs in on what is actually of value out of all the clutter at your place
QHi Peter, I love to shop but I find that once I get home with my bag of goodies, the joy only lasts for a short amount of time. I want to stop making this mistake – help! Amy, via email
AHi Amy. Let’s talk about shopping for a minute. When you enter the store, your shopping experience begins. Perfectly controlled air temperatures, soothing music, lovely lighting and friendly staff (OK, sometimes) make your shopping trip enjoyable. As you’re looking for that new pair of shoes, other things magically end up directly in your path. And, oh, wow, look at that! It’s on sale! What a bargain! I must own it! Now!
I find that most people who have issues with too much clutter in their homes have a problem with what I call differentiating between the ‘product’ and the ‘promise’. We know we’re buying a product, but it’s easy to overlook the promise that we’re investing in. The idea of everyone gathering for an amazing family meal where all will share your great cooking and have a wonderful evening may be the ‘promise’ behind your having recently purchased a new set of cookware. If the clutter in your home makes you sad or depressed, you’ll identify with this. Not only is the house a mess, it’s a collection of products – from clothing to cookware and beyond – representing a series of unfulfilled promises that you’ve made to yourself. If this is you, take heart – I see it time and time again. People think buying things will make them happier or smarter when the truth is, for many, an over-accumulation of stuff is the most depressing thing they could do to themselves. From the beginning of your life, we’re told that more is better. Look, with things like education or deep friendships, it definitely is, but when it comes to material items, I’m doubtful. So, if you’re at a point where you feel like you’re just not getting that much joy from the stuff you own, do yourself a favour and stop buying anything that’s not essential. There are all sorts of tricks you can do to help you break free of the shopping habit – leave your wallet in the car when you go into a shop for instance or, even better, plan activities for your weekends so you don’t happen to end up at the shops. I’m not suggesting that this hold on buying new things should be forever, but a break from the endless cycle of chasing happiness through retail therapy might just surprise you. Go a little further and start decluttering your home of valuable things that aren’t bringing you personal joy. Sell them, donate them, give them to friends. I promise that you’ll feel a true sense of happiness when you realise someone is getting some pleasure out of something that you no longer really need. And, that’s how you end up in a much happier place.