I recently read about a study published by a San Francisco State associate professor of psychology showing the value of experiences over things. I’ve written a few times about investing in experiences vs. “stuff” and it was interesting to see a study endorsing that route to a happier life.

People often think material purchases will bring more happiness because the items last, while the experiences are only short-lived. But unlike “stuff”, which tends to not be so thrilling after you get used to it, the memory of wonderful experiences doesn’t fade. In addition:

  • Experiences tend to be enjoyed with others, resulting in a greater sense of connection.
  • We are less likely to compare our experiences with those of others in a “keeping up with the Joneses” type of way. Unlike comparing cars or houses or TVs, more lavish experiences of someone else won’t diminish yours.
  • There is greater joy in the anticipation of experiences than with “stuff”.

In the same article, I read about a study by a University of British Columbia associate professor of psychology who explains we are happier if we give some of our money away, than if we use it all ourselves. What’s important when you give money away is seeing its impact—a small amount of money that makes a big difference in the lives of others is more powerful than a larger donation with an unclear impact.

In addition, the article talked about the importance of the experience of time. It’s a better investment to spend money to live closer to work than it is to buy a fancier car for a longer commute. It’s also a good investment to outsource tasks you dislike, something I feel very strongly about and have written about in my book and in blog posts such as this one.

I’m very much drawn to experiences over stuff. I’m a huge sports fan and over the years I’ve been to countless live sports events. I love travel and do so as much as possible. I love music, and attending concerts is a favorite activity.

What is your experience with experiences vs. stuff? Join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,