In the aftermath of the 2001 September 11 attacks, often referred to as 9/11, George W. Bush told people to “go shopping,” acknowledging the positive influence of retail therapy on our overall state of happiness and well-being.
Unfortunately, while we do call retail therapy a “therapy,” it is not prescribed by any qualified therapists, as it only provides us with a short-term pleasure, not the long-term bliss. This why going shopping for pleasure is not sustainable, requiring from us an ongoing investment of time, money, and mental freedom (to be explained shortly).
For these reasons, in this article, we will explore what retail happiness really is, how it affects our sense of happiness, and why a psychologist will never prescribe a random trip to a shopping mole, if what you really want is to feel happy.
How Retail Therapy Can Affect Your Happiness?
Retail therapy is a therapy you get when you go shopping. It is the happiness you get from every single purchase you make. As such, it does not matter what you buy as long as you buy something. Of course, people usually buy things that they want to buy, but it is not always something they need to buy, which is also why we often end up with closets full of things we haven’t used for years.
On the negative side, retail therapy can be rather expansive, with people worldwide spending more money than they have. They do so because they are hoping that tomorrow their lives will be better than today. Of course, they want to have this life sooner rather than later, which leads them to buy things before they can truly afford them. This roughly translates into people living from paycheque to paycheque and incurring unnecessary debt.
Furthermore, the happiness we drive from shopping is often short-lived. At a moment of purchase, people experience dopamine release, which makes them happy at the moment. However, unavoidably, dopamine wears off, and people return to their baseline of happiness, their normal average state of happiness, no matter how high or low it is.
As such, George W. Bush was only partially right when he told people to go shopping, as he was providing a relatively short-term solution to some potentially long-term problems, such as grieve.
Why This Year We Are Shopping Online?
This year, the person who most happy about Covid is Jeff Bezos. His online store Amazon shows all-time high sales, with the rest of the e-commerce business showing similar (perhaps not that high) profits. Said, people suddenly can’t go out shopping in person, so they go shopping online.
I had a similar experience, not on the same level as Jeff Bezos, but still. Last year, before Optimal Happiness, I was working in e-commerce for 4 years, and we saw a spike in sales starting from Black Monday and going all the way to Christmas. We thought that the trend should continue to new years, but it ended up around Christmas day, presumably because people did not expect to get their products on time for the major holidays.
Still, there was a clear 4x increase of sales during Black Friday, 2x increase during Cyber Monday, and similarly high sales during the holiday season, which tells us a lot about what people are thinking/doing: shopping. This year, however, we expect to see a similar trend with sales going up because people are staying at home, but down because of the new economic crisis.
Do’s and Don’t of 2021 Retail Therapy Season.
I plan to buy a few things in the upcoming days, which I was planning to buy for some time now. I have been putting off these purchases, aware that I can get them at a discount during this period, especially Black Friday.
Still, I am also aware that I already have many things in my life to the point that I often throw away some of my old possessions. I always have something else that I want to buy, but I also realize that this is an infinite game, whereas there is no end to how much I can wish to purchase. This tells me that perhaps I should be mindful of what I buy, focusing only on the essential products.
Optimal Happiness During Black Friday and Cyber Monday
For readers of this blog, we have a special promotion. Only for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I have lowered the price of my book Optimal Happiness: A study of the Happiest People Alive. If you still didn’t buy it, this is your chance to do it. Here are some quick links if you are interested in this offer:
- Amazon US (worldwide)
- Amazon CA
- Amazon UK
- Amazon DE (recommended for NL)
- Amazon ES
- Amazon FR
- Amazon IT
- Amazon JP