The purchase of material goods provides instant gratification and a fleeting feeling of happiness. The psychological process of wanting something, then immediately fulfilling that want, sends a surge of serotonin through the brain. However, this feel-good neurotransmitter dissipates a few hours or days after you’ve purchased the object of your desire. The physical objects you own don’t become a significant part of yourself. Alternatively, if you spend your money on experiences, the experiences become part of your identity and result in long-term fulfillment. There are many factors that create long-term happiness from experiences. Here are some topics on the matter, which explain why you should spend your money on valuable experiences instead of material objects:
There are five pillars of genuine wealth, that exceed just financial capital — human, social, natural, built and financial. These various facets contribute towards your overall, long term well-being. In Mark Anielski’s book, The Economics of Happiness: Discovering Genuine Wealth, Anielski makes sociological and scientific claims to support the idea of cultivating genuine wealth. He points out that people have been living their lives as though the accumulation of wealth is the key to their dreams. This mindset is detrimental, he argues, as it doesn’t contribute to your happiness in the way that supportive relationships, meaningful experiences and a healthy environment do. Material wealth is not the answer, but rather the accumulation of meaningful moments that will stay with you for the duration of your life.
The Anticipation of Experiences
Psychological studies have revealed that the anticipatory period before you obtain a desired experience is more pleasant and exciting than if you are waiting to purchase a material object. Material purchases may cause more anxiety — you generate a subconscious feeling that you cannot enhance your value without a certain item. It’s a feeling that makes you want to “keep up with the Joneses.” When you think about your upcoming experiences, it triggers abstract thoughts that are more complicated than if you anticipate a purchase of a particular item. There is more mental space to daydream, which is more gratifying. With this idea in mind, take measures to plan ahead in your experience purchases and scheduling. You can increase your happiness simply by making a restaurant reservation, buying tickets to your favorite band before the show and planning your vacation far in advance.
Buy Tools, Not Frivolities
While material objects won’t provide you with long-term happiness, you will need tools that will support your adventurous experiences. Make sure you purchase items that can support your adventures and recreational activities. For example, if you want to plan your vacation or make reservations for a restaurant, there are many apps that will allow you to seamlessly do so. Make sure you have a high-quality smartphone, like the Apple iPhone 7, which will provide you with the capabilities to plan your activities and experiences ahead of time. If you’re an outdoors enthusiast, equip yourself with high-quality equipment that will support your love of hiking, rock climbing, kayaking and more. For example, good hiking boots may cost a pretty penny, but they will allow you the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and boost your happiness. You can find the right style of hiking boots at REI, where they will help you choose what’s best for you.