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Buying Experiences for Greater Happiness

Experiences boost happiness

Have you ever wondered what is behind the saying, “Spend your money on experiences, not things?” It’s an interesting idea that runs counter to common sense because, as we know, things last longer than experiences. For example, whilst your holiday can be over and done with in a fortnight, a new settee or pair of shoes will last for ages! However, it doesn’t work like that in practice. This is because human beings quickly adapt to the new possessions. Yes, we may get a rush of excitement when we first buy the new items, but then the novelty wears off and they start to fade into the background of our experience. By contrast, the memories of a holiday can become embellished with time. Even holiday disasters can turn into fond memories; especially if they brought us together or we learned from adversity.

An added benefit of buying ‘experiences’ is that we can get extra excitement and pleasure before we even make the purchase. For example, a recent Dutch study found that people experienced an eight week boost in levels of happiness whilst they looked forward to planned holidays. (This returned to normal levels two weeks after their return!). When we look forward to new experiences we can plan and imagine all sorts of new possibilities; this isn’t usually the case with buying new ‘things’. So, when purchasing experiences, plan them well in advance to maximise your pleasure!

Overall, the benefit of buying ‘experiences’ is that these events often involve us connecting with other people, and or achieving things, or just taking a step outside our normal way of life. New experiences like this can make our life more vibrant and rewarding. That is why buying ‘experiences’ usually trumps buying ‘things’.

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