happiness

Happiness Secrets: Experiences Over Things

The “Happiness Secrets” series will focus on small changes that I’ve started to implement into my own life, that I’ve found make me an overall happier person. “Wealth is the ability to truly experience life.” — Henry David Thorea


(Inspired by this article written by Taryn Stenvei.)

It has been scientifically proven that we are more satisfied after spending our hard earned money on experiences. It’s not just the immediate satisfaction, but the lasting effect, that proves this. We are happier to collect stories and memories- we have more “storage space” for them in our minds than we have space in our homes for stuff.

Problem

I’m currently studying business in college, and one thing we’ve been taught is that consumers often experience buyer’s remorse, aka, “the state of unease which exists in the customer’s mind after buying a product or service.” (source) When you spend a lot of money on something like a new pair of shoes, or a new iPhone, you’re likely to feel pangs of guilt shortly after the purchase. You may also feel these pangs of guilt after investing in an experience, but the amount of guilt and length of time that the feeling lasts is usually much less.

I recently watch the documentary, The Minimalist, and the message really resonated with me. It sheds an honest light on our behaviors as consumers, and how we will never be satisfied by material objects. Check out the trailer below!



Solution

So how can we avoid this feeling of guilt? Well, when it comes to large purchases, we should take time making sure it’s something we really want/need. Budgeting is necessary so you don’t feel like the purchase is beyond your means. Saving up for it instead of spending impulsively will make you feel like you earned it.

Another way of avoiding this feeling is to enrich your life with more “adventure”. Take a class on something you’ve always wanted to learn about/learn how to do, like psychology or skydiving. Travel somewhere new, even if it’s just a road trip to a nearby town or a hiking trail you’ve always wanted to tackle. Pictures can be your souvenir.

You can even implement this practice into giving. For example, if it’s your friends birthday, take them for a nice lunch instead of sending flowers. If it’s a gift for a loved one, go to a concert. I personally love going to the spa, if anyone needs an “experience” gift for me!

By focusing more of our energy on things that truly matter, we can better our own lives as well as the lives of those we surround ourselves with. Happiness is becoming more important than monetary gain. Our priorities are changing, we have unlimited access to information, and we question everything, giving our generation the advantages we need to better the world. So tell me, what’s been the greatest experience of your life? Do you regret how much you spent on it?

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