Tim Kasser, a psychologist at Knox College is one of the researchers who conducted a study the correlation between shopping/spending money and happiness.

Although a lot of men and women believe the phrase: “Money Buys Happiness”, the latest research suggests otherwise. Madonna was wrong. Out of four studies, all four found that reducing dependance on material possessions and a focus on the acquisition of money increased their subjects happiness. Here are six suggestions from psychologist Tim Kasser on to limit impulse buys (the following is quoted from Scientific American:

• Try to keep track of every advertisement you are exposed to for four days. Or, alternatively, try to avoid being exposed to any advertisements for four days. Afterward, reflect on the difficulty of the task and think about the purpose of advertisements in our society.

• For one week see if you can go without nonwork screen time: No TV, video games, Facebook, smartphone surfing. At the end of the week, reflect on how you spent your time instead.

• Think about your intrinsic values, which for most people are personal growth, connection to family and friends and contribution to the community or the world at large. Write down how your choices or behaviors uphold each of these values.

• Keep track of every single penny you spend for a month. Then ask yourself how much each purchase fits your values.

• If you are like most people, you will find that your spending does not always fit your values. Ask yourself why you are spending money the way you do. Is it insecurity; to impress people or feel worthwhile; because it is normal in our society to do so?

• Have a conversation with the important people in your life about money. Where does it come from? How much do we give away? How much do we save? What are we saving for? Why do we spend it on the things we do?

These activities are all aimed at shifting our mental focus toward our intrinsic values, which will naturally decrease our materialistic tendencies. Doing so could improve your well-being, according to Kasser’s study and many others.

About Joshua G. Silverman