Everyone just wants to be happy. For some people, the pursuit of happiness stems from purchasing the brand new games console, the shoes you’ve had your eye on for months, or the Harley-Davidson you’ve been dreaming of since you were little. Sounds great, right? But scientists have come to the conclusion that spending your money on experiences rather than things can actually make you happier.
We learn to adapt
We humans love to adapt to our surroundings. This adaptation also occurs when we buy new personal goods and things. We often buy new things to make us happy – whether it’s clothing, games, shoes or the brand new iPhone. But this happiness only lasts a short while. At first, these new things are exciting to us, but then we adapt to having them in our lives and having them around us that, suddenly, they aren’t so exciting anymore. Experiences, however, are constantly changing and are short-lived, so adaptation isn’t an option, meaning we can enjoy them even more.
Experiences connect us to others
It’s likely that when you decide to go on an adventure, you take someone else, or a group with you. And this experience allows us to connect with others and get closer to them – whereas, sharing a new car probably won’t.
You don’t feel as negative about your purchases
Everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses, and you’ll always see someone who has something better than you – unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. But researchers have found that those who choose to spend their money on experiences tend to compare themselves to others less than those who spend their money on material goods. For example, if you buy a new phone, you’ll probably still get envious of someone who has the better model, because we all what we can’t have. But if you took a trip to Hawaii, there’s probably someone out there who was staying in a better hotel than you, or someone who got a taxi rather than a transfer bus to the hotel…but you’re in Hawaii. So you don’t compare yourself so much and enjoy it even more.
Experiences make memories
When you look back on your life, what are you going to remember…the Gucci bag you bought in 2010 that is now out of fashion, or when you took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon? Experiences are so much more memorable than things because material items come in and out of our lives. Experiences last a lifetime and allow you to thoroughly enjoy life, along with what the world has to offer.
Science has found that spending your money on experiences, rather than material goods does make you happier. When participants were asked to self-report their happiness, after spending their money on things and experiences, researchers found that, initially, their happiness was equal. Because we all love something new, right? But after time, the happiness of those who bought material goods went down, whereas those who undertook experiences stayed the same. So, long story short, if you want to be happy for a long time – choose experiences. If you want short-term happiness – choose things.
Experiences create a person
Material goods are things that you can really like and enjoy during your lifetime. You can even really love them…especially if that thing is a Ferrari. But in actual fact, these possessions are completely separate from a person. They are there if and when you need them; if you do even need them in the first place. Instead, experiences sum us up as human beings. You can be afraid of heights, then decide to skydive, and conquer your fear. This changes you and becomes part of your identity – or it can make your fear worse, but it’s more likely that you’ll conquer your fear. We hope! Our character and personality is determined by the experiences we undertake throughout our lifetime.