Happiness is something that is supposed to come naturally yet many people seem to struggle to find it. Even with wealth and success in life, happiness is not always guaranteed. But, stop for a minute and ask yourself how do you spend your money? What do you do with that entire surplus after your bills are paid? Scientists argue that if you spend your money on specific experiences rather than things, then you are bound to lead a happier life.
The Possession Paradox
The main assumption for most people is that money should get you what you want; a good car, a good home, and go on vacation once in awhile. However, a study that lasted nearly 20 years showed that material things are really not that important. According to Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychologist at Cornell University, the happiness that is drawn from material things is not permanent and tends to fade very quickly.
There are a number of reasons that contribute to this. The first one is that people will often get used to possessions. It doesn’t matter how breathtaking the possession is, after some time, you will become accustomed to it and it will become ordinary. The second reason is also equally simple yet very true. When we place emphasis on possessions, we will keep raising the bar. When you buy something, there is a chance you’d want the better version of it as time goes. It explains why people are always crazy about a new iPhone for example even if it’s not much different from the one they currently have.
Finally, you are always going to compare what you have with what others have and will want yours to be better. Take, for example, you’ve bought a great car and one of your colleagues at work bests it with a newer more advanced model. What’s stopping you from getting a newer, better model than his? It’s a cycle that continues over and over until we realize that no matter how many things we have, our happiness cannot be found on such possessions.
The Power of Experience
If possessions are not worthy of making us happy, then the next logical question is simply what will? The power of experience is in particular expressed as an important aspect. Experiences, unlike possessions, become part of our identity and the happiness they bring becomes long lasting. When you take a moment and think of this, you’ll see the inherent value. Besides, what would you rather do? Go to the store and get yourself a new phone or take a break from a busy day and enjoy some quality time on a hike? Experiences, not things are the answer.
Even though we are not defined by our experiences in life, what we are is often an accumulation of various experiences we have had. Material goods are going to end, they will not create memories nor will they curve out nostalgic moments in our minds. But, experiences do. That’s why you’ll look back at something years down the line and you’ll remember it with fondness. In light of this, the takeaway point here is that experiences do matter and they are far more important than material things.
It's all about your experiences and memories, not things.