“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experiences.”

—Paulo Coelho

Nowadays there is a never-ending list of things on which you can spend money on which you believe will bring joy to you. We are part of a society that is obsessed with consumption. All dazzling materialistic things attract and allure us like, houses, cars, technology, etc. are all items in which we are pressured into purchasing.

Dr. Gilovich is just one of several researchers who believe in the Easterlin Paradox, which states the opposite of the theory which we have following since forever. This aspect simply states that after our basic needs have been met, the money will only increase happiness to a certain point for the following reasons:

Happiness gained from material items quickly fades.

Dr. Thomas Gilovich concludes simply that spending money on experiences, and not things will be more fulfilling. “One of the enemies of happiness is an adaptation,” Gilovich said. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

Experiences never fade to the mundane, but objects always do. Experiencing happiness is gained from breaking the everyday routine cycle, and trying something new.

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

Experiences define your purpose and passions.

Our life should not be based on possessions. You will never feel fulfilled chasing after the next great “must-have” item and never find the real happiness experiences can bring. What should guide you through life are your passions and your unique purpose.

 The anticipation of uncertainty

Gilovich has also discussed the aspect of the anticipation between getting an experience and obtaining a possession. He found waiting for possession only causes impatience and stress, whereas the anticipation for an experience caused excitement and enjoyment.

“In reality, we remember experiences long afterward, while we soon become used to our possessions. At the same time, we also enjoy the anticipation of having an experience more than the anticipation of owning a possession.”

Possessions don’t connect us

“We consume experiences directly with other people and after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell one another.”

“Turns out people don’t like hearing about other people’s possessions very much, but they do like hearing about that time you saw Vampire Weekend,” said Cornell doctoral candidate Amit Kumar.

Experiences provide you with different worldly perspectives.

It is largely known that there is no better way to learn about worldly perspectives than traveling. Traveling is undoubtedly one of the greatest ways to experience various cultures and social norms. It is an education that you will never experience in a classroom no matter how many places you study. Simply taking a road trip for a weekend offers you a new and fresh experience. Spending time in nature can be extremely meditative and healing. 

Image Credits: Wanderlustyle

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