Imagine yourself on a beach in Hawaii with your closest friends. Laughter, drinks, and the balmy sun beaming down from above. As you inhale your senses are lifted after tasting that sweet ocean air. You feel happiness overwhelming you, unlike anything you’ve felt before. Life is good…

How would that feel? Do you think you would have the same feeling if you had purchased let’s say, a TV for the same price of your vacation? Doubt it!

A good friend of mine just got back from Costa Rica. He was ecstatic with expression towards his time there. I haven’t heard the full of it yet, but I am looking forward to grabbing a beer with him and hearing everything.

Something occurred to me when I was reading his texts. When does anyone show that level of excitement over buying something material? Even if they do, how long does it take before that euphoric feeling wears off?

I then realized, it’s probably better to spend money on life experiences instead of blowing it on materialistic things. Had my friend bought something material for the same price of his vacation, I don’t think I would have received this:


Now here’s something interesting from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February 2013:

Recent evidence indicates that spending discretionary money with the intention of acquiring life experiences—events that one lives through—makes people happier than spending money with the intention of acquiring material possessions—tangible objects that one obtains and possesses. We propose and show that experiences are more likely to be shared with others, whereas material possessions are more prone to solitary use and that this distinction may account for their differential effects on happiness. In 4 studies, we present evidence demonstrating that the inclusion of others is a key dimension of how people derive happiness from discretionary spending. These studies showed that when the social–solitary and experiential–material dimensions were considered simultaneously, social discretionary spending was favored over solitary discretionary spending, whereas experiences showed no happiness-producing advantage relative to possessions. Furthermore, whereas spending money on socially shared experiences was valued more than spending money on either experiences enacted alone or material possessions, solitary experiences were no more valued than material possessions. Together, these results extend and clarify the basic findings of prior research and add to growing evidence that the social context of experiences is critical for their effects on happiness

So instead of buying fancy objects, studies show you will gain more happiness from spending your money on socially shared experiences.

Rally up some friends or family and plan a vacation. Jump on a plane and take off somewhere immersed in another culture. Experience things instead of buying a new home entertainment system. You’ll remember ‘that time we went or did so-and-so’ for years after your sound system has lost it’s effect.

Have you had any experiences in life that brought you more happiness than material possessions would have? Let’s hear it! 

Later Days,




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