People always search for happiness, and that state of mind is usually considered a worthy aspiration. Some specialists think that happiness is one of the strongest indices of a society’s health. It turns out, though, that constantly conserving funds is not a good way to achieve happiness. According to the latest research, it is better to spend your money on experiences that make you happy.
At first sight, there is a logical assumption that explains why many people spend money on physical objects rather than on experiences. Things last longer, so they should make us happy longer than a one-time experience. For example, visiting a concert or going on a trip for a holiday would seem to offer a less enduring happiness than buying a new car, a flat, or a smartphone – since all of them will serve you much longer. However, the most recent research shows that this assumption is quite misleading.
Thomas Dashiff Gilovich (Professor of Psychology at Cornell University) and other researchers have confirmed that material things cannot provide a person with the same long-lasting happiness that experiences can.
Here are reasons why:
• People tend to get used to new things in their lives quickly. What seemed fascinating a few weeks earlier soon becomes a normal everyday routine.
• We’re always raising the bar. “The more you spend – the faster it goes.” New purchases lead to new expectations. The quicker you adapt to new things, the faster your desires increase.
• Physical things, even the most expensive and exciting ones, cannot give a person the strong feeling of happiness that an experience will. Moreover, while you quickly adjust to things, you will keep a strong memory of a great experience forever.
Experiences become part of your personality. They can change your mindset and even your attitude toward life. Personality represents an accumulation of everything we’ve seen, the things we’ve done, and the places we’ve been. Buying a Bentley or an Apple Watch isn’t going to affect your personality; taking a break from work to hike the Appalachian Trail most certainly will. Don’t forget that a material object fades into the background, and after a short time it doesn’t provide the same feeling of happiness that it once did. While the happiness from material purchases decreases over time, experiences become an integral part of our identity.
One study conducted by Gilovich showed that even if a person claims that a certain experience exerted a negative impact on his feeling of happiness, once he has an opportunity to fully comprehend it, he will evaluate such an experience much higher than he did initially.
Gilovich explains this notion by the fact that an event which might have been stressful or unpleasant when it happened, could in the future become just an amusing story to be told at a party, or an invaluable character-building experience.
The temporary happiness that people gain from buying cannot be compared to the effect and positive feelings they can attain through experience. In other words, you will feel happier from the experience of climbing a mountain, taking a cruise, or traveling to countries that you have never visited before than you will from buying anything. Things may last longer than experiences, but memories last forever.