I have always enjoyed shopping. When people would ask me what I do in my spare time, I used to ask them if shopping could be considered a hobby. I loved shopping for clothes, shoes, housewares, you name it. Whether it was something I needed for myself or something another person needed, I was always up for a trip to the store.
As I started to contemplate what I would be doing with all of my free time this summer, I thought I would end up shopping and cleaning my house. The shopping part actually concerned me a bit, because I am living on a limited budget for awhile. Since I have been off work, my attitude towards shopping has changed. I find I don't need it anymore.
Of course, I still get satisfaction from a productive trip to the grocery store or to Target to get paper towels and other supplies for the house. But I realized that a lot of the other times I shopped, it was because I was unhappy.
I hated my job so much that I needed to buy pretty clothes to wear so I would want to get up in the morning and go there. I would always be in search of the perfect pair of comfortable black shoes to wear with all of my dresses. And I would often have to settle for a "non-perfect" pair just to get me through until the right pair came along. My closet is full of almost perfect black pumps.
I was trying to fill a void in my life by acquiring and procuring stuff. And I convinced myself that I needed all of that stuff. I used to tell myself that I work hard to earn all of that money so I can use it to buy things I need to make me happy.
Looking at that statement now, it seems ridiculous to me. Why did I think it made sense to torture myself every day just so I could get money to buy stuff to make me happy? I was a victim of the golden handcuffs. I was well compensated at my job and I thought I would never find another job that paid me as much money, so I stayed there even though it made me completely miserable.
That type of logic is exactly what the corporations want us to believe. Maybe it is all part of a huge plot against us. Corporate America creates all of these miserable jobs for us to do so they can turn around and sell us stuff to help us feel better about our miserable jobs. When you really think about it, they are the beneficiaries. First, they get to enjoy the fruits of our labor. And usually we work more than the 40 hours they pay us for, so they are already ahead. Second, they earn the profits from all of the stuff we buy with the money they pay us.
I wonder what would happen if people were just happy with their lives? Then we would not need to buy all of that stuff. Of course there are still things we need or even want to buy. And I am in no way implying that we shouldn't shop if that is what we choose to do.
I guess I am just recognizing all of the mindless shopping that I did over the years. The idea of retail therapy is one that I used so often to justify my purchases. Shopping made me feel free. It made me feel like I was taking control of my life. But I wasn't.
The problem with retail therapy is that it's only a temporary solution. As soon as you go back to the office and start to feel the weight of all of the burdens and responsibilities, the unhappy feelings come flooding back. And the cycle starts all over again.
This time, I am going to try something different. I am trying to build happiness from the inside out, instead of the outside in. It might be a longer process, but in the end I think it will be more satisfying. And much less expensive.