Money can’t buy happiness, as the familiar saying goes.
But this phrase refers to the buying of material things; be it cars, clothes, or expensive wristwatches. Of course, materialistic things do offer temporary happiness, and there’s nothing wrong with indulging in the pleasure of things once in awhile.
But what about the long run? Where should we invest our savings to ensure happiness that doesn’t fade with time? The answer, as studies show, is spending on experiences.
Dr. Thomas Gilovich, Cornell University Psychology professor, concludes that the happiness that things give you will fade because material items don’t last. Often enough the ‘new’ quite quickly becomes old. The excitement fizzles out. And when we become accustomed to the old, we move on to the next new and improved thing. Plus, people are always comparing what they have to others, and what others have will always look better.
Gilovich and many other researchers have found that while experiences come to an end, their impression does not. The memory of our experiences will last forever, be in the form of photographs, or in the stories of the adventures that we share with others. Experiences become part of our identity. Perhaps your trip to Europe made you more aware and appreciative of all the different wonderful cultures. Or maybe that one spiritual journey to Bali made you see the world in a whole different light.
Plus, when we share our experiences with others, there is no matter of negative comparison. Instead, we find ourselves looking excitedly for similarities, searching for a likeliness that can be appreciated together. As a result, experience builds community.
And the experience itself isn’t the only time you’ll be happy. Gilovich also studied anticipation and the excitement of anticipating an event. From planning the moment to living the moment, and then finally, sharing the moment, happiness follow throughout.
So instead of purchasing the next new iPhone, how about planning a trip? Be it a day trip to the city with loved ones, or a week-long stay at your dream destination. If you’re looking for happiness, you’ll find that it’s been right with you all along, waiting for the moment, or experience, for it to shine out of you.
Halah is an aspiring writer consumed by a wanderlust that only grows with every glimpse she gets of the world. She is in her fourth year studying English Literature and Professional Writing at UofT. When she’s not commuting, Halah spends most of her time reading, drawing, hiking and practicing photography.
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