6. Forget retail therapy
A study of high-school students published in Applied Research in Quality of Life supported something we probably already know intuitively: The desire for materialistic possessions—regardless of actually obtaining the possession—leads to lower life satisfaction. James Roberts, PhD, the study’s author and a professor of marketing at Baylor University in Texas, says, “Material possessions cannot deliver on their promise to make us happy. As human beings, it’s how we feel about ourselves, our relationships with others and our involvement in the larger community that brings happiness and contentment.”
Based on his decade-long study of the psychology of consumer behavior, Roberts contends that a love of material possessions can in fact undermine how we feel about ourselves, costing us personal relationships and, ultimately, our happiness. The key is to be aware of what he calls “the consumer tsunami” washing over us, and to make choices that have us spending more time supporting the social relationships that are the sources of our happiness. This may include volunteer or charity work, which has been shown in numerous studies to boost personal happiness.