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Experiences>Things

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Did you know that science explains why you should spend your money on experiences, and not things?

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Most people are on the pursuit of finding ultimate happiness (or even just a little bit.) And while science does show that money can improve happiness, once your most basic needs are met, it doesn’t make you that much happier. Given this dilemma, one of the biggest questions in life is how to allocate the money that we do have.

Most people assume that it is better to invest in tangible “things,” because they last longer than experiences. And while that is a logical assumption, it is 100% wrong. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the relationship of money and happiness for over 20 years.

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “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 are the sum total of our experiences.”

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Another important component when weighing the option of investing in experiences over things, is the shared human connection. You are more likely to feel a connection to someone you took a trip or vacation with along the coast of New England than someone who recently purchased the latest iPhone.

Even if someone wasn’t with you when you had that specific experience, there is a better chance that you’ll bond over both having taken the same excursion and having visited the same exhibit than you are over both owning Fitbits.

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So there you have it. By shifting your investments from things to experiences, you increase your chance in finding happiness. Now that you know this, does this change anything? Do you feel like exchanging your planned summer purchases for a summertime road trip with family or friends?

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