Shopping is not the same as buying

Just about everyone over the age of fifteen, anywhere in the world, engages in the market in some way. We need things and we buy them.

That’s not what shopping is.

Shopping is the act of imagining what you might want. It’s the thrilling but risky exchange of money for something that you’ve never purchased before. Something that might be better than you hope, but it might not.

In some communities, shopping is so foreign and risky that it simply doesn’t happen.

Shopping is a cultural activity, with styles and approaches varying depending on who you are and where you live.

Shopping releases chemicals in our brain. In many cases, particularly with luxury goods, it’s this emotional shift that we’re actually paying for, not the thing we’re buying.

The trillion-dollar industries that are based on shopping as a sport (as distinguished from buying what we need) are relatively new, but have been around long enough that many of us take them for granted–normal activities that appear to have always been around.

Money is a story. Your story is probably different from everyone else’s. Our relationship with debt, savings and earning money is extraordinarily complex. Consumer credit has turned from a convenience and useful bridge into, for many people, a trap.

Gift cards, garage sales and self-storage units start to reveal just how many layers we’ve built up around our commitment to shopping.

In small doses, for many people, shopping can produce happiness. But it doesn’t usually scale.

More stuff might not be the substitute for the things that we truly want.