“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation” – Thomas Gilovich
Most of us work hard every day to get our paycheck at the end of the month. And after covering our regular expenses, there is usually little left for spending. So we must be wise on how we invest this money to get the best out of it.
The Paradox of Possessions
Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, directed a 20-year study in which he reached a very potent and straightforward conclusion: “Don’t spend your money on things.” He further explained that the biggest problem with material possessions is that the happiness they produce fades fairly quickly. But somehow we believe that the happiness we get from purchasing something will last as long as the item itself.
These are three crucial reasons why shopping doesn’t give us lasting happiness:
- Everything new becomes old faster than we believe, so the excitement about new possessions dissipates very quickly.
- We always want more. New acquisitions lead to new expectations. As soon as we get used to it, we long for the next best thing.
- Possessions promote comparisons. You can feel completely happy with your new purchase until someone else comes along with a better one.
The Power of Experiences
As part of this same study, Dr. Gilovich, as well some other researchers have found that experiences provide more lasting happiness than any material possessions you can buy. Experiences become a part of who we are. Possessions do not define us, but we are a collection of everything we have done, the things we have seen, and the places we have visited!
Dr. Gilovich put it this way: “Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. 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 part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”
Comparison doesn’t hold the same value when it comes to experiences. We don’t compare adventures in the same way that we compare possesions. We all know each one of us will experience different adventures even if we go to the same place, so comparing is not as relevant.
Anticipation matters. During this study, they found that anticipation of an experience produces excitement and pleasure while anticipation of buying something produces impatience. Planning for a trip is enjoyable from the very first moment you think about it, all the way to the end. But even though a holiday vacation will last a lot less than a car, you will probably spend more time talking about the memories you made while traveling than about the car that took you to those places.
You still need a good backpack to embark on new adventures, and we have the very best ones. This is the best kind of shopping, the one that prepares you for your next trip and helps you build those amazing memories that will bring you happiness and great stories for a long time!