Put the half-price handbag down. If you want to be truly happy, you’re better off spending your hard-earned cash on something else entirely…
If you’re wondering whether to splurge on a new spring wardrobe or your next summer holiday (first world problems, anyone?), wonder no more. There’s scientific proof that spending money on experiences, rather than things, is the way to a happier you.
Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, has been studying the link between money and happiness for more than 20 years. His findings, which were printed in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, have put paid to the idea that buying material things – like a new tellie or handbag – will make you truly happy.
Instead, it’s the ‘experiential purchases’ – the cookery course, the museum exhibition or the holiday to Jamaica – that’ll put a smile on your face for far longer. And it’s down to the way us humans adapt to things a little too well.
The science bit: we adapt too quickly
Gilovich explains, ‘People are thrilled when they get a raise, buy a new car, or get their first article published…But often the thrill quickly fades. The raise gets absorbed into the budget, the car loses that new-car smell and feel, and soon a thirst develops for getting more articles published.’
And it’s true. Yes – the rush we get when we buy something new is great at first, but it peters out with time. The jeans go out of fashion. The shoes look a little too worn-in. And the snazzy new TV loses its shine (not to mention the remote control).
With experiences, though, things are different. A holiday brings with it a whole new bunch of experiences you’ll talk about for years to come, photos you’ll treasure for decades, and memories that’ll last a lifetime.
And the same goes for learning to scuba dive, climbing a mountain or setting off on a Jeep safari. Better yet, why not do them all while you’re on holiday? That’s a whole lot of happiness right there…