Why should you spend your money on experiences instead of things?
Because experience affluence is a better predictor of happiness. And that is always a good reason.
The Science behind Happiness and Adventure vs Goods
1. The happiness spike caused by material goods is very short-lived. As soon as you adapt to your new toy the degree of happiness falls sharply and quickly. The novelty simply wears off and normality returns.
On the other hand, experiences will produce joy from the moment you start anticipating it, joy during the experience and happiness long after the experience itself as you revisit the memories. Breaking your routine will bring you lasting happiness, buying a new phone will cause temporary joy.
This phenomenon even extends to the time you spend queueing to buy something. It has been scientifically proven that humans in a queue to buy things like an iPhone have less connection and less in common than the humans standing in line together to buy say, concert tickets.
2. You can always buy material goods again – but once the opportunity to go on an adventure has passed, chances are you can’t recreate it. Minimize the regret and expand your horizons and happiness by investing in experience.
3. We consume experiences with other people. Things can isolate people but social connection (a major happiness indicator) goes hand in hand with experiences.
4. Your social connections will improve because the stories you tell about your experiences will be more interesting. And these conversations will bond you with others which will strengthen social connections further. (On the whole, people don’t like hearing stories about possessions.)
5. We are more likely to define ourselves by special, interesting or exciting moments in our lives than by the things we own. We may like what we own but it always remains separate from ourselves. Your identity is not defined by your possessions but is actually an accumulation of the places you’ve been, lessons you’ve learned, and the experiences you’ve had.
6. An experience can be tailored to be unique and distinctive. Material items… not so much.
7. If you chase after the next ‘must have’ item… you will forever be chasing it. If you are guided by your passions and purpose you can attain happiness immediately. And if you do not know your ultimate passion and purpose you probably still know what you are passionate about, and any and every experience related to your passions will help you find your purpose and shape your life.
8. Unlike things, experiences come with a risk of uncertainty. People experience risk as a positive even when everything does not exactly go as planned.
9. The anticipation you have while you are waiting for a possession is experienced as impatience and stress. Excitement and enjoyment are what you will have when you anticipate an experience.
Images via Ishan @seefromthesky, Jared Rice, Finding Dan | Dan Grinwis