Why do many people go shopping the minute they have money in their wallets? Material wealth brings you happiness, albeit temporarily. Only a few days after a new purchase, the thrill, pleasure, and enjoyment you felt begins to fade.
It turns out that as soon as you get used to your new purchase, your level of satisfaction decreases and you feel compelled to go shopping again for the next exciting thing. This vicious cycle repeats itself over and over again.
The problem with this kind of addiction is that you are trying to buy happiness. Unfortunately, money can only make life easier and less stressful, it can’t give you long-term contentment.
According to a research conducted at Cornell University, there is a way to break that damaging cycle. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at the university, has revealed that people experience the same amount of happiness when making a purchase they want and when they travel. And here’s the important bit, while the happiness you derive from a purchase reduces over time, the memories of your traveling experience still supply you with happiness hormones for a long time.
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Gilovich explains that adaptation is “one of the enemies of happiness.” You buy things to make you happy, and you succeed for only a short while. Soon, you adapt to the things that used to bring you happiness.
Although making new purchases may give you novelty, it still lacks the key ingredient for maintaining happiness.
As Dr. Gilovich says, your experience is a bigger part of yourself than your material goods. You may actually like your purchases and you may even go to the extent of thinking that a part of you is connected to that stuff; however, they are separate from your identity. On the other hand, your travel experiences are part of who you are.
Your richest and most cherished memories aren’t from the material goods you’ve bought. Rather, they’re a total sum of the life experiences you’ve had.
Traveling brings you to new cultures and places. In such an environment, everything around you feels more enriching. Your brain and body alike lose track of time as you’re so keen on absorbing new information.
That disconnection from the normal surroundings that you’re already adapted to offers an excellent environment for creating happy and lasting memories that are hard to forget or replace.
Robert Waldinger, head of a 80-year old research at Harvard University knows much about happiness. The results from one study revealed that individuals who most connected to their family, friends, community, and other people were the healthiest and happiest.
In light of that, Waldinger says that you need to deepen your relationships by doing new things together with the people in your life. He goes on to explain that experiences connect you to others in a way that material things can’t. To Waldinger, some of the most important experiences in his life are travel. Traveling, he reveals, brought him closer to his family.
Participating in extreme sports, learning new skills, or going to unusual events will bring you joy. A new car or gadget will eventually become ordinary, old, and outdated. On the other hand, the memories you create will become a real source of happiness that will stay with you your whole life.
So, invest your hard-earned cash in experiences, and you’ll be investing in your long-term happiness and satisfaction.