Shopping for Sanity

Increasingly, we are living in a culture with an “I’ll get mine” or “me first” mentality, whereby we position ourselves to run ahead of the pack, in competition with others.  Evidence of this attitude is mounting during “Black Friday” sales when, in 2010, customers and company associates alike were trampled by crowds of shoppers stampeding opening doors of stores in the pre-dawn hours.  While those incidents were deemed accidental, random incidents across the country during this season’s Black Friday were more calculated by perpetrators who were armed with pepper spray and loaded guns for what—an opportunity to save a few dollars on a TV or toy?


This outrageous hysteria obviously represents one extreme end of the spectrum—certainly not ourselves.  But how often do we fall prey to our own bad behavior, when driven by frustration and fueled by impatience?  Nerves frazzle and tempers flare as we jockey for space in parking lots and checkout lines or deal with disappointment when an item is out-of-stock.  The final straw that almost guarantees a meltdown is when we lose out to a fellow shopper who nabs that sole perfect handbag just as we are reaching for it.  So how can we preserve our sanity in the midst of such chaos?


1.  It sounds simple, but go into Zen-mode before approaching the hoards, as you already know what to expect.  Allow ample time; you’ll need it.


2.  Prioritize your list as to what you can accomplish that day; you can only do what you can do.  You’ll not only curb your exhaustion but also extend your patience and good will towards fellow shoppers.


3.  Rather than driving yourself crazy locating this year’s hot toy or electronic gizmo, think of alternatives that will come close to filling the bill—or begin shopping in July.  You’ll feel more at peace and less of a failure.  Besides, there are other ways to become a hero.


4.  Be kind and considerate to store personnel.  Their nerves are often at loose ends just like yours.  Besides, a sales associate may be more inclined to help locate what you want from another store if your lose the “tude.”


5.  If you see a shopper contemplating an item that you want to purchase, avoid a squabble by concealing your enthusiasm and admiration.  Your expressed desire will encourage that shopper to covet the prospective item even more, making him or her even more likely to buy it.


6.  Adopt “Thou wilt not snatch” as a commandment in your battle strategy.  Remember the Seinfeld episode when Jerry seized the remaining loaf of marbled rye from the elderly woman ahead of him in line.  While he triumphed in securing the bread, it all came to a bad end in the final episode of the series.


7.  Keep your sense of humor at all times; it will not only increase your merriment during this season of joy, but also soften life’s entanglements throughout the year.  Mine, in fact, helped me to write this blog entry.







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