When you go shopping, other than for groceries, is it to go shopping or to buy something? I used to go shopping just to go shopping, because I was bored, or jittery, or feeling lonely or unsatisfied. I’ve (mostly) managed to kick that habit now and when I go shopping it’s with a specific purchase in mind. It doesn’t hurt that, in France, stores are closed on Sundays, so the available time for recreational shopping is cut in half.
I’ve noticed that I have very few things leftover from my ‘shopping to shop’ years: whether I bought books, CDs, clothes or household objects, my purchases seem to have vanished into thin air. An international move does tend to to pare down one’s possessions of course, but even so I seem to have gotten rid of most of what I bought during that time.
What I liked was the experience of shopping: being out of the house, looking for things, being in a different place, the thrill of the hunt, projecting a persona, learning. What I bought wasn’t necessarily important. It was the buying that mattered.
A lot of what I bought, and still buy, was from thrift stores, so it’s not like I was racking up thousands in debt either. But an unnecessary purchase is always unnecessary, even if it only cost $.99, not $99.
Now I mostly go shopping with a goal in mind. Of course there is the problem of getting sidetracked along the way and ending up with about twenty things plus the original object (does anyone else remember the comedy routine about the hunter and the gatherer and how a man can go to a mall for black socks and come away with black socks while the woman, having gone for black socks, comes away with a white shirt and a CD?).
I can honestly say that about 90% of the things in my house are either useful (refrigerator, clothes, computer) or deeply loved (my husband’s guitars, my books, my kids’ toys). The objects that I love hold more of a value than just for their aesthetics; often the reason I love them so is because of their back story. Maybe it was a gift, maybe the color makes me feel a certain way. I know though, that buying an object is not necessarily bad, when it’s done with intention. And for the things that aren’t useful or loved, ask yourself this question: why is it still in your house?
Do you love the object or the experience? What is your most treasured object in your house? Do you shop for fun or to kill time?