As predicted by most travelers, living a life of happiness isn’t decided by who has the most stuff, but by who has the most experiences.
Umm what? Aren’t we led to believe that what we’re suppose to be doing is saving all of our money so we can keep up by buying the newest phones, TVs, cars and fashionable clothes? Judging by how most people behave, this seems to be the case.
As It turns out, while we were brainwashed into thinking material things were the way to happiness, according to science, what will bring you the the longest lasting happiness are experiences — travel, outdoor activities and learning new skills.
Shit! Who would have thought, right?
We think because our brand new iPhone will last longer than a holiday in Hawaii, that the happiness we felt whilst purchasing the iPhone lasts longer, too. Unfortunately, the crap the mainstream media feeds the general population couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who’s been researching the correlation between money and happiness for decades says: “One of our enemies of happiness is adaption. We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed, but only for a little while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”
Because our shiny new phone is right there, it makes us vulnerable to adaptation. Slowly, but surely it starts to fade into the background, with every day edging us closer to the release date of the new and improved updated model of our favourite must have electronic …thing. Whereas the trips we take, along with the magical experiences, start to become part of our identities.
Think about it. Which had a greater impact on you — that game of tetris you got as a kid, or the family trip you took to Europe? Which of these two provides you with the endless stories that molded you, in some way, into the person you are today?
“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” said Gilovich in the study “A Wonderful Life: Experiential Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
“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 a part of you. We’re the sum total of our experiences.”
Humans are highly social by nature, and it for this very reason meaningful social relationships contribute in a huge way to our happiness levels.
Gilovich continued, “One reason that experiential purchases tend to provide more enduring satisfaction is that they more readily, more broadly, and more deeply connect us to others.”
So, what are you waiting for? Stop saving for the updated model of your current car and get on a flight to South East Asia, South America or even Africa. Trust me, if you’re after long-lasting happiness, not a single material thing will get you there, experiences will.