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Thursday, 2 April 2015

Spending on Experiences, Rather than Things, Makes You Happier

Recently, I read an article on Fast Co-Exist, which was entitled "The Science of Why You Should Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things". The author, a certain Mr. Cassano, is a staff writer for Co.Exist. The article is the result of the author's interview with Dr Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell U who has been studying the science of happiness keenly for the past two decades.

Dr Gilovich says that people are often happy to get new things, but soon grow bored of them after adapting to them. People do not adapt as easily to experiences, and purchasing new experiences will contribute more to happiness.

Over time, Dr Gilovich's studies show that people's satisfaction with things will decrease, while their satisfaction with their experiences will increase.

Experiences also become a part of our identity, and the stories that we remember and tell other people.

Shared experiences also help us to connect with other people. The example he gave is taking a trip with someone to Bogota -- you'd feel closer to them than the person who also has a large TV.

As experiences are less homogeneous, people don't compare their experiences in the same way they compare product purchases.

Dr Gilovich's scientific endeavours have been investigating the Easterlin Paradox, which states that money can buy happiness, but only up to a point.


From my personal point of view, I believe that Dr Gilovich is entirely right. That's why I'm planning to visit Korea, a land both familiar and strange, later this year. I had last visited the Hermit Kingdom during my honeymoon several years ago; it will be good to see old places in a new light.

Our experiences shape us, and that's probably a good reason to pick and choose our experiences.

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