I Tried Buying Stuff For Others Instead Of Myself For 1 Month – & Here’s What Happened
I don’t know if I’m having a mid-life crisis, but I’ve got to an age where I’m really not bothered about buying myself loads of shit. When I was 25, living at my mums and earning a decent wage, I’d happily go on regular shopping sprees in my lunch break. Hello high street stores – please take my money.
But when you have to support yourself in the real world, well, those shopping trips become few and far between. You struggle to make ends meet and realise that although it’s totally OK to treat yourself occasionally, you’re not exactly in a position to splurge. But now I don’t even want to splurge. Plus, I’ve not got the room for it.
So, why keep buying pointless crap for myself – when I’ve on the whole got most things I need. Am I strutting my stuff rocking new fashion trends? Nope – I’ve got no sense of fashion anyway. In the last few years I’ve actually developed an obsession with charity shops. I just love it when I find something and save £££.
So instead of pointlessly buying things, in the last month or so I’ve tried something new. I’ve really tried to focus on buying and giving little things that will cheer people up. And whatdyaknow, it’s actually more satisfying than treating yourself.
It gives you satisfaction and makes you happy
The joy you get from ordering something thoughtful online and waiting for it to arrive, wondering how it might improve a friend’s day. It’s way better than buying something you won’t use for that long or don’t even need. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton et al found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more than spending it on themselves.
Maybe money can’t buy happiness. But perhaps money spent on others can buy happiness.
What’s more, giving can actually improve your health, as well as your mood. In Stephen Post’s book ‘Why Good Things Happen to Good People’, he claims giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness.
It doesn’t have to cost much
I’ve not been spending much. Thanks to sites like Etsy and Not On The High Street, you can purchase thoughtful little gifts for reasonable prices. And it’s sooo easy to click ‘buy’ on sites like Etsy that enable Apple Pay. In seconds you’ve ordered something thoughtful, it takes far less time and energy than it would before the wonderful interweb.
And if you’re naturally a creative person, which I’m not – then you can make stuff without spending much at all. There’s nothing nicer than receiving a handmade gift. I just wish I had more skills in this area. I could defo send some handwritten letters, I’ll put that on my ‘how to be a better person’ to do list.
It makes you realise the important stuff
I’ve found that I’ve felt less of a need to waste money on things that won’t make my life better. You know what makes your life better? Spending time with loved ones and being in the moment. I’m not denying buying the odd nice top or scented candle won’t make you feel good – nor am I saying stop buying these things. Just try and change the balance of the scales so that they’re weighted towards giving more than receiving.
It has also made me value the friendships I have realise that I can and will put more time into the right people. These people are worth spending a little time and money on. Friends who have been there for you for a long term deserve a little gift every now and then.
There doesn’t have to be a reason
You don’t have to give a gift to someone for a particular reason. When we feel we have to give a gift it doesn’t really feel as good. Like birthdays for example. You feel the pressure as a friend’s birthday looms to come up with a good present. It’s not quite the same as spontaneously feeling like you want to treat someone.
Of course there are other good reasons to get people something. For example if you know someone who is going through a particularly difficult time at the moment, consider how much a lovely little something will make their day just a tad more manageable.
We also give gifts when people are unwell or when they’ve lost someone they love. But my point here is you can give a gift to someone ‘just because’. It’s strange how people react when they get these types of gifts because they’re like – what did I do to deserve this?
It makes people cherish your relationship
A gift can help remind someone that you care. It can say something without you having to verbally communicate a message to someone. And often, it simply makes a person realise that you are there, thinking of them. Real, genuine, strong friendships are worth keeping and worth making the extra effort for every once in a while.
Someone on Linkedin shared my post, then the next day he got in touch with some fab news which certainly made my day. This blog post inspired him to take action. Here’s what happened…
Took a leaf right outta the Content Wolf Handbook on my train journey back from London this afternoon..A young lad’s phone had died and he desperately needed to get an email over to his boss before COP and needed to tell his girlfriend that he’d be home later than usual so I gave him my iPhone charger so he could sort it all out. I was getting off so I told him he could keep it. So he didn’t catch it from his boss and he’s not in the doghouse with his other half…Random acts of kindness are few and far between sometimes and the genesis of this one, was you.
AMAZING! Thanks for sharing this with me Adam. These small gestures can make all the difference to someone’s day.