Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men — Do you see “shopping” in there anywhere?

Christmas is theoretically a time of peace, generosity and goodwill to our fellow humans. The American way of Christmas, however, paradoxically creates Scrooges. We are programmed by retailers and the media to shop at the sound of the bell which signals the end of Thanksgiving dinner, and to continue doing so for about a month. (In fact, retailers know that after the weekend after Thanksgiving, not much holiday shopping happens till around Dec. 15.) But shopping and spending may actually create stress, stinginess, reduced cooperation and distance instead of peace on earth and goodwill to our fellow humans. Consider the following:

Money issues cause the most stress during the holiday season, according to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association (APA).

The survey of over 1000 people found that 61% of Americans listed lack of money as the top cause of holiday stress followed by the pressures of gift giving, lack of time, and credit card debt. Survey results also show that younger Americans are more worried about lack of money and gift giving compared to people over the age of 35.

One in five Americans are worried that holiday stress could affect their physical health and 36% say they either eat or drink alcohol to cope with holiday stress.

So holiday gift-giving creates holiday stress, especially through lack of money. Then there is this research:

Psychologists from several universities found that subconscious reminders of money prompted people to become more independent in their work, less likely to seek help from others, taking 70% longer to do so. They became reluctant to volunteer their time, twice as slow to offer help, and twice as cheap when asked to donate to a worthy cause.

Having money on the mind even caused the students who were their subjects to put more distance — literally — between themselves and others. Instructed to place two chairs together to meet another student, they put the chairs about 47 inches apart, compared with 31 inches for the students who had not been prompted subconsciously to think about money.

(For the whole story, see http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/21/health/psychology/21doug.html?ex=1164949200&en=15eaddded84ffaed&ei=5070)

So shopping makes us think of money, which makes us stingier, less likely to help others, more likely to put distance between ourselves and others. Doesn’t sound to me like it’s creating peace, generosity, harmony or goodwill. This year, consider nixing the shopping, and giving of yourself and your time instead. If it doesn’t give you joy to do it or give it, don’t!

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.