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Shopping Can Make You Happier, Science Says

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A good friend of mine recently let me know that she received some horrible news from a doctor.

They found two small tumors in her brain, and she was given the option to either have them removed that day or to wait three months and operate then.

She decided to wait, and she won't know if the tumors are cancerous until February.

I asked her why she didn't get them operated on right away, but she wasn't very forthright about her reasoning.

Although, I imagine if I'd made the same decision, my reasoning would be based on fear.

She did mention, though, that she has a lot of plans over the next few months, most of which will cost her a pretty penny.

She's looking forward to expensive trips and big buys, like she's going through some kind of existential Black Friday sale.

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It makes sense, though.

She's always been somewhat compulsive with her money. And there's no judgement there because I am, too.

But actually, the theory that people who are financially compulsive would use shopping as a way of escaping the fear of death and boosting their mood is supported by science.

In a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Consumer Affairs, researchers set out to find what the effect of shopping would have on people who were instructed to ponder their own deaths.

The researches selected two groups: people who were frugal and people who were inclined to be more materialistic.

The two groups were then asked to write down their feelings about their own deaths along with a description of what they believed would happen to them when they died.

After that, the groups filled out a survey that measured whether or not they'd make certain purchases.

Turns out, the frugal people didn't use death as an excuse to splurge.

It was actually the already financially irresponsible ones who decided to use the "I'm dying, so I'm going to get it while I can" excuse to spend like there's no tomorrow.

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Basically, these consumers who were more inclined to spend viewed shopping as a form of emotional therapy to help them cope with their inevitable passing.

In conclusion, science, as an industry, spent its money on a study just to find out that "shoppers be shoppin'!"

Also, just so you guys know, my friend is going to be fine.

She's going to live forever because that's just who she is. She's like a female Keith Richards.

Citations: Do I Fear Death? The Effects of Mortality Salience on Anti-Consumption Lifestyles (Journal of Consumer Affairs), One Way to Deal With a Fear of Death: Go Shopping (NYMAG)