Once your basic needs are met, instead of spending money on material goods, you should spend money on experiences if you want to be happy, according to research.
Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University says via Fast Company:
One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation…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.
According to several psychological studies, the initial happiness level is the same for both material and experiential purchases. But over time, people’s satisfaction level with the things they purchased went down, while the satisfaction level with their experiences went up.
According to Dr. Thomas Gilovich, this is in large because while material things will always be separate from you, experiences become an ingrained part of your identity. Gilovich says:
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.
Another reason why experiences make us happier is because we are able to connect more to other people through shared experiences. A shared or common experience bonds us to others while having the same material things has no such effect. For example, we may bond with someone who also went skydiving but not with someone who also has a BMW.
So, next time you think about splurging on material stuff, you may want to consider going to a concert or traveling instead!