Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things
We all must have heard people cry from time to time about how this world that we live in is becoming more and more materialistic. The majority of people have this somewhat flawed belief that having more material possessions will enable them to lead a happier and more fulfilling life. However, that is not quite true most of the time. Quite often, material possessions have a tendency to lose their charm and value not much long after we attain them. In fact, to put it more accurately, we lose our interest in them after some time because they are now just like any other thing that we happen to own. When we did not have that particular thing, there was lots of mystery and charm that we associated with it. But when we have owned it and used it for a while, that charm and mystery begin to wear out slowly and it is not the same as before.
Of course, this is not the case all the time and certainly not with all our material possessions. Some things retain their significance for us even after many years of consistent use. The point is that material possessions are only going to get you so far if you are looking for ways to lead a happy and fulfilled life. It is a lot wiser to spend your hard-earned money on what science and scientific research concludes will make you happier. Because after working hard every day all throughout the year and taking care of your regular expenses, the limited amount left behind should be spent on worthwhile stuff and experiences that will leave you feeling happy and fulfilled for a long time. Let’s take a look at this material possession-experience debate in a bit more detail.
Consider this scenario. You have just finished work on one of the biggest and most challenging projects in your professional career and your employers have rewarded you with a nice fat paycheck. A celebration is definitely in order. You go out with friends and family and treat yourself to a small feast and a few drinks. But more than that, you are looking for some concrete reward and some way to spend your new-found financial freedom in a way that will leave you feeling happy and fulfilled for long. You think about getting your hands on that latest phone you wanted, or a brand new HD television or you plan for a vacation abroad while the thought of taking classes to learn a new professional skill has also crossed your mind. These are all great options that will help you have a good time and enjoy great moments with friends and family. They are all an avenue for you to spend your money in a certain way to achieve happiness and fulfillment. But the question remains, should you be spending more on material things that will surely bring enjoyment, or should you be spending more on new experiences whose outcomes will be uncertain at best?
Research suggests that you should always go for experience rather than material things in such cases. Let us tell you why.
##Material v/s Experience##
Mental health experts suggest that experiences provide us greater happiness as compared to material objects. This sounds somewhat strange, considering that any object has a longer lifespan on average than an experience. For example, that new HD television may well be used for the next five or even ten years, while a vacation trip to Hawaii is only going to last for a few weeks at most. Why, then, should you go for experiences instead of material possessions? Dr. Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, explains it in the following words.
“Adaptation is an enemy of happiness. We purchase stuff to feel happy. But that is only for a short while. New things are understandably exciting and fulfilling initially, but then we adapt and get used to them.”
No matter how happy or excited you are with the purchase of that latest phone or a comfy new couch for your living room, these things eventually become just another part of your home. You may continue using them for years to come, but the novelty wears off after a while and then it is just repetition. In order to feel more fulfillment, you desire to buy something new and better after some time.
On the other hand, the experiences you spend your money on are temporary and do not last very long. A day-long visit to that art gallery, a month-long vacation to the Caribbean, a two-week professional development workshop, all these things come to an end soon enough. But that is where experiences have an advantage over material things. Because such experiences are a step away from your daily routine, you enjoy them to the fullest while they last and cherish their memories in the times to come. In contrast, the value of material objects only lasts up to that initial excitement phase and their luster wears off over time.
##The Experience Advantage##
As fleeting as experiences may be, the happiness we feel because of them is more long-lasting because of the following reasons.
1- ##Experience Becomes a Part of Who We Are##
As humans, we are the sum of our experiences. We are most certainly not our possessions. Buying that coolest new phone would not change who you are, but taking a break from your daily professional grind to follow a passion or go on an adventure road trip certainly will.
2- ##Different Kinds of Anticipation##
Researchers have concluded that anticipation of an upcoming experience causes you to feel excitement and joy, whereas anticipation of an object causes you to feel impatience. You enjoy experiences while they are taking place and also later on when they become memories that you cherish.
##Bringing It Together##
While research suggests that we should opt for experiences over material things, there needs to be some sort of a balance of both in our lives. It wouldn’t be the wisest of things to do to go chasing after adventure trips while ignoring basic necessities of everyday life. But experiences also allow us to learn and gain knowledge about so many different things. So, it is all about maintaining a balanced composition of both.