Friday, November 18, 2011

One Week, Dollars Richer

No shopping for a week? What's a brain to do without its dopamine rush?

Last night, after a chiro appointment, I went to White Oaks Mall in South London. Haven't been there for ages— I'm not much of a mall rat. But the place is decorated to the hilt with Christmas, which means abundance of colour, texture, scents, sounds.... and STUFF. Piles and Piles of stuff. Beautiful things, rich textures, heavenly scents, beautifully laid out. Stuff that BEGS to be bought.

Which, of course, is the point. And which, being on a 30 day spending fast, I didn't. I meandered, wandered, walked slowly around the whole darn mall. I went in to shops, looked, touched, admired, scowled at the cheapy crappy stuff. My wallet stayed in my hoodie pouch. I enjoyed my happy wandering.

If you haven't heard, shopping is healthy. 'Tis! Dopamine, the brain's 'make me happy' neurotransmitter, is released when we experience something new, whether it be a walk along a new route or seeing new things in a shop window. And our brains thrive on novelty. If shopping is a pleasurable activity, your brain gets flooded with endorphins.

It could also be argued that shopping:

  1. keeps you active—you have to walk around from store to store. You're not on the couch or playing Scrabble.
  2. keeps your mind alert— you have to make decisions about pricing, about need/want, about how something will fit into what you have, etc. You have to remember if you saw the same thing for less somewhere else (unless your iPhone is doing the price comparison for you)

But before you pick up your bus pass and rush to the mall.... window shopping also achieves the same dopamine surge as actually spending money.

I love window shopping. I love seeing the new colours and designs, seeing what fabrics or materials are being used; I enjoy seeing how the displays are made to be beautiful and appealing. This simple act inspires me, lifts me up, makes me smile.

It's now been just over a week without any spending other than on essentials.

I'd like to say it's been tough, a hard slog and that I'm reeling from spending withdrawal.
I'd like to say that I've drooled and salivated as I passed Starbucks, that my car 'intuitively' just drove into the parking lot and I fought the impulse to cave.

If I could whinge and whine about how hard it's been and oh, poor me, I haven't been able to buy a magazine that was calling my name. If I could grumble about missing my Tall 5 pump lactose-free light water extra hot chai  or my tall half-sweet, lactose-free hazelnut hot chocolate on my 65 km drive home... maybe  this whole project would have more colour and buzz and edginess to it.

But, sadly, there's been just about nothing. No tremors, no shakes, no urges. I have emerged from Week One unscathed.

I did return $14.70 of bottles and cans to the Beer Store. I've also put about $30 into the pot to represent what I might have spent. When I return from London, I automatically pop $5 into the savings box ( an empty Rheo Thompson's chocolate box- representing luxury!) in place of the Starbucks I probably would have bought. I've been making thermoses of tea to take with me wherever I go.

And I continue to think about the money energy... more coming later on this. But first, I'm heading to Stratford on Saturday for a concert. I'm making it an exploring trip. I'll be seeing friends there. And yes, I will be buying stuff... for presents. I'll be closely watching, though, my responses to the dopamine rushes I expect to experience.

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