According to Harvard-trained psychologist Matthew Killingsworth our happiness lies not in the intrinsic value of physical things but in our experiences. Other than perhaps a little anticipation and the immediate thrill of purchasing and unwrapping an item, owning something does not make us happy.
And it’s not just Killingsworth, during the last decade there has been a wealth of research into the psychology of happiness that all points to experiences having more intrinsic happiness value than do material possessions.
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Experiences = happiness
Have you experienced the contemplation and excitement when you have a concert ticket booked or have just purchased a flight to Barcelona, and as the date of that experience grows nearer you can barely fit into your skin? Having something ‘to look forward to’ can keep us going through tough, busy and stressful times. Our annual beach holiday, ski trip or spring city break , are the lights at the end of the tunnel.
So essentially, when you purchase an experience, you purchase three things: the anticipation of the experience; the experience itself; and the memories and photos you take with you. Plus, with social media, it is possible to share that experience with friends across the world once you upload your photos.
So purchases of experiences easily trump material ones because the thrill of buying is usually greater, the experience is often shared, and the memories live on in our minds.
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The value of experience
Another reason scientists believe that experiences have more ‘value’ than objects, is because their value lasts long after the experience has taken place. A holiday, gig or festival will be full of memories, and even if they are bad memories – it is still something that will stay with us, often to be looked back and laughed at in years to come.
So, with this information in mind, what are you waiting for? Forget the latest iPhone or new car, book that experience. I hear Barcelona is very beautiful this time of year…
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