We like buying things, at least we think we do. It’s bred into us. Life in the 21st century is a fast paced, consumer oriented experience where media surrounds us at all times enforcing the idea that happiness is a matter of buying the perfect house, driving the best car, wearing the trendiest clothes and posting status updates on the latest high tech devices. Everywhere we look we are inundated with the same message: “BUY, BUY, BUY your way to happiness!” While buying a new gadget or the first drive in a new car may be satisfying or thrilling for a short while, the thrill always fades and we find ourselves back in the same place seeking the next purchase to keep the feeling going. If this sounds anything like your life then rest assured there is a better way to spend your money and keep that feeling alive: Stop buying stuff and start buying experiences!
Recent research from San Francisco State University found that people who spent money on experiences rather than material items were happier and felt the money was better spent. The thrill of purchasing things fades quickly but the joy and memories of experiences, from epic adventures to minute encounters, can last a lifetime. Next time you’re feeling a bit down or lacking in some way, before you go out and buy things remember these five tips for evaluating your spending and decide to have experiences instead of just accumulating stuff.
1. It’s The Little Things
Size doesn’t matter . . . in happiness. Most people equate large purchases with large amounts of happiness, and while it’s true that buying a Maserati may give you more of a thrill than dining out with your friends, the thrill of a fancy car will soon fade and with the money you spent you could dine out a couple times a week for years in the company of friends and family. Those less intense, but still enjoyable evenings out in the company of loved ones will provide a much longer lasting and more fulfilling happiness than the temporary thrill of a large purchase. Plus, people who have more frequent social interactions live longer, healthier lives and experience less stress, depression and feelings of isolation. Small expenditures of money involving social interactions such as dining out, getting a manicure with friends, going to a concert or meeting up for drinks are a great way to de-stress, have a great time and create lasting memories. Little bits of happiness add up and when spread out, last alot longer!
2. Giving Is Better Than Receiving
Few things provide a lasting sense of happiness and fulfillment like giving to others. There is very little you can do for yourself which will have the same effect as doing well by someone else. Keep this in mind next time you’re wandering the mall, window shopping every store. Instead of seeking out things you may want to buy for yourself, go on a hunt to find the perfect item to surprise your best friend or significant other. Buy your mom a fresh bouquet of flowers or get your dad a new sleeve of golf balls. The experience of surprising a friend or loved one with an unexpected gift will not only make their day, but leave you feeling great about yourself, and that joy will last unlike your temporary excitement over a new watch.
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