You know happy women: they are the ones shopping together, indulging in cheerful bouts of ‘retail therapy’. After a long day of going through many clothes and shoe shops, trying on as many outfits as the human body can take, they end up enjoying a nice ‘filling’ salad accompanied by a chilled glass of white wine.

When did that last happen to you, honestly? Did you know that one third of women around the world actually hate shopping? Indeed, for many of us, endless hours of relaxed shopping and money spending are neither realistic nor satisfactory.

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Recent research on the quality of women’s retail experiences debunks the myth that we are at our happiest when walking high street, spending money. They emphasized that for some, shopping is far from therapeutic. Instead, many women are faced with very long queues when shopping, the stress of not finding clothes that fit or suit them and have to deal with rude staff. If your figure is far from ‘socially ideal’, shopping can be very frustrating. Even slimmer women will have sometimes been in a situation that everything they try on looks awful and they end up returning home empty handed.

On the other hand, people who enjoy shopping feel that if they stop spending they will become unhappy. They find shopping therapeutic despite the fact that it just offers temporary happiness. The enjoyment they get from spending their money, although short lived, supports their world view that money bring can happiness. Eventually, that deluded and unrealistic concept of money ends up ruling their lives.

‘It’s the experience of abseiling, which contributes to your core happiness, not the money that paid for it. Not the car which drove you there. Not the equipment.

Money is wonderful stuff, but it’s just a means. By itself it does not, and cannot, contribute to your core happiness. There are plenty of opportunities to grow as a person without the need for money. They’re there, now, waiting for you to grasp them. Look.’ (The umpteen keys to core happiness)

Another psychological study,  found that when people go shopping while feeling sad, they make very poor financial decisions. The enjoyment shopping will give will be only temporary resulting to feelings of more sadness and regret.

Using a shop spree as a means to feeling happier and cheering up is a big mistake. The effects will only last for a while and when they wear off your shopping decisions will make you even sadder. It is a vicious circle that especially we, women, should try avoiding falling into.

[quote_box_right]Whether it is choosing to go splurge at the mall, planning your budget or evaluating an investment opportunity, try to avoid making financial decisions when you are upset[/quote_box_right]

The quality of our lives, nowadays, is sadly defined by our material possessions. Who doesn’t love those? We all do and that is part of our human nature. However, when we depend on those to survive and make us feel happier or believe that material wealth is the measure of true friendship or of how much others will love us, then we will end up alone and miserable.

If our happiness depended on our standard of living then we would surely be happier than people who lived many centuries ago. That is not the case, though. Following this logic, people living in expensive houses and mansions would be happier than those living in small apartments or worse.  If that was true then we do see so many rich and powerful people depressed? Why have so many rich celebrities taken their own lives or ended up leading unhealthy and destructive lives?

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Psychologist, world citizen, mother - Effie is one half of the alwaysladies.com founding pair. She can bring to life any party with either a smile, or a strong opinion. If like us you can't get enough of Effie, visit her blog at www.thethinkingmomblog.com

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