Experiences vs. Stuff

Believe it or not, there’s a science behind what makes you happy and why. There have been tons of studies done on happiness and how to achieve it, but one of the most powerful was conducted by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University. The conclusion he came to was simple: Don’t spend your money on stuff. 

He explains that happiness with stuff & things fades quick but experiences bring more long-lasting happiness. Curious about why that is?

1. Experiences become part of our identity. “Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” said Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

2. Comparisons don’t matter as much. We compare our experiences in a different way than we compare our stuff. That alone makes them more enjoyable. 

3. Anticipation matters. Part of the enjoyment of experiences starts with the planning. Looking forward to an event makes it all the more exciting. 

4. Experiences happen quick. Most don’t last long, which is part of the reason they’re so valuable. 

Experiencing things alongside others creates lasting memories. This generates a value that’s hard to put into words. Next time you’re deciding what gift to buy someone or yourself, consider going with an experience instead. 

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