The Science of Why You Should Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things


We all know the feeling of finding the perfect present for a loved one. Whether it’s a shiny new gadget or a beautiful piece of jewelry, the joy of giving a gift that will be used and loved is hard to beat. But according to recent studies, that feeling may be short-lived. In fact, it turns out that material possessions may not bring us as much happiness as we think.

Instead, the science says we should spend our hard-earned cash on experiences. Here’s a look at the reasons why.

The Hedonic Treadmill

One of the main reasons that possessions don’t bring us lasting happiness is what scientists call the hedonic treadmill. This is the idea that we quickly adapt to new levels of wealth, comfort, and status. In other words, that new car or designer handbag loses its luster after a while because we get used to it.

But experiences are different. Because they’re fleeting, we don’t have time to get used to them. That means we can enjoy them for longer and the happy memories will stay with us long after the experience is over.

The social factor

Another reason that experiences make us happier than things is that they often involve social interactions. When we buy something, we usually use it alone. But when we go on a trip or attend a concert, we often do it with friends or family. And research shows that social interactions are key to a happy life.

In fact, one study found that the biggest predictor of happiness is not how much money you make, but whether you have close social relationships. So next time you’re considering spending money on a new TV, think about using that cash to buy tickets to a show or plan a weekend getaway with your friends instead.

The anticipation factor

Finally, research shows that the happiness we feel from an experience starts long before the actual event. In fact, scientists have found that the anticipation of an upcoming trip can be just as pleasurable as the trip itself.

So if you’re looking for a way to boost your happiness, start planning your next vacation. The sooner you start looking forward to it, the better.

Of course, this is not to say that you should never buy things. Possessions can certainly bring us pleasure, and there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a new piece of jewelry or a nice handbag from time to time. But if you want to maximize your happiness, science says you’re better off spending your money on experiences instead.

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