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Studies Show That People Who Buy Experiences, Not Things, Are Happier

Studies Show That People Who Buy Experiences, Not Things, Are Happier

Let’s say that you recently came into a bit of money. What would you do with it? Would you rather buy a bunch of high quality gadgets and products, or go on an expensive vacation to a unique and exciting locale?

Personally, I’ve wavered between the two. I like my gadgets more than most, so I’ve probably spent more on electronics than your average person. That said, I’ve been on trips taking me all across the United States, and I definitely think I am better off for it.

Luckily, the question of whether to spend your money on products or experiences has been answered by science, and thus you’ll no longer have to worry about whether you should choose one over the other in the future. So what is the verdict? According to San Francisco State University, people are far more satisfied when they purchase experiences, than they are when they buy material objects.

And yet, most people, including myself, are prone to spending our hard earned money on things like clothes, shoes, gadgets, jewelry, cars, and the like. We do this because these things are tangible: we can hold them, use them, etc. When we buy experiences, all we have are the memories, and thus, it seems like we’re getting less out of our purchase.

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What that study reveals, however, is that in the long run, we cherish our memories and experiences far more than the things that we buy. And it makes sense. Decades from now, will you remember your cross country trip that took you to the Grand Canyon, or that Xbox you waited in line for all night? Probably the former.

Let’s break it down into simpler points. Why exactly are people who buy experiences, rather than objects, happier?

1. They have plenty of memories to fall back on.

Professor Thomas Gilovich out of Cornell made a point of saying that while new things are “exciting to us at first,” they quickly become blasé as time passes. Soon enough, they’re a mundane part of our daily existence that adds little if anything to the amount of joy we feel on a daily basis.

We’ve all felt this with our smartphone purchases. For the first few weeks, they’re so amazing that you just can’t stop using them. You do everything on them: text, e-mail, web browsing, e-reading, and more. In about a month, though, you get used to it. You start treating it like a “thing,” rather than something that actively brings you happiness.

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I’ve often asked myself why so many people have smartphones with cracked screens. Is it because so many folks are simply that clumsy? After doing the research for this article, I’d have to say no. It’s because people stop seeing their smartphone as “valuable” over time, and thus, they’ll treat what was once an expensive purchase with the kind of reckless abandon that leads to drops, scratches, and inevitably, cracks.

Those who spend the majority of their income on experiences, however, don’t have this problem. While they may not have the latest smartphone, they are likely more well-traveled, and thus have far more life experience. While others need to keep buying new products to keep their spirits up, those who buy experiences can always fall back on their good memories when they need to. It’s much like comparing a sugar rush to a good nap. One is more instantaneous, but the other has more lasting benefits.

2. They reap the long-term benefits.

With over 79 million millenials in the United States (three million more than the amount of Baby Boomers), we are bound to change the way that things work.

One part of this comes from the fact that we’ve grown up during an economic recession. As such, we haven’t had the luxury of being able to spend what little money we have on objects with fleeting value. Instead, we’ve been focusing on long-term investments like higher education and travel.

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Indeed, when I was in college, I noticed how many of my peers chose to save their money for traveling abroad, or to make student loan payments, rather than splurge on alcohol or other purchases typical of young adults.

Not only does this save resources in the long run, but it allows us to forge an identity in a world where it’s becoming harder and harder to find one’s place. And doing so, according to researchers, is a crucial aspect of growing up in today’s world.

3. They share their experiences with others.

As introverted as I am, I must still admit that I am happier when I have a bit of social interaction now and then. Additionally, conversing with others is always more fun when you get to recount some kind of unique experience to them. Indeed, Peter Caprariello and Harry Reis examined this phenomenon in a 2013 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. What it found, essentially, was that experiences make us happier because we get to share our memories with others. Buying objects leaves us feeling more hollow because they are normally things that we use by ourselves.

It’s probably why, in one study, researchers found that those anticipating an experience (like waiting in line to see a play), rather than the purchase of an object (like waiting in line to buy an iPhone), were found to be much happier. It’s because they knew they were going to experience something that they could share with other people. Something that will help them connect with others in a particularly unique manner. As nice as a new iPhone is, in the end, it’s just one smartphone in what’s likely to be a long line of smartphone purchases in your lifetime.

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This kind of happiness-related research is already having a major effect. Indeed, you can find several articles (like this one) detailing the lives of those who traded in their material-based lifestyle for one centered around things that are more substantial, such as travel and education.

While it’s obviously impossible to completely stop buying material objects, we can stop basing our happiness in terms of how many nice things we own. As these studies show, what truly brings us enjoyment and fulfillment in the end are our experiences, and the resulting memories that we get to share with our family and friends.

Featured photo credit: Couple/Mo Riza via flic.kr

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

40 Ways to Achieve Peace Of Mind and Inner Calm

40 Ways to Achieve Peace Of Mind and Inner Calm

Do you have racing thoughts and find yourself constantly worrying? An anxious mind is truly distressing.

The good news is, there’re simple things you can do to calm your thought.

If you want to achieve peace of mind and inner calm, try these 40 simple powerful ways:

1. Listen to Music

Studies have found that relaxing music can help kids with ADHD to be calmer and focus. But it doesn’t matter what genre of music you want to listen to, as long as you enjoy it and it makes you feel relaxed.

Music is food for the soul and an instant way to gain peace of mind.

2. Deep Breathing

When you focus on your breathing, your mind’s attention is drawn to the life-enhancing process of drawing in air and exhaling.

Take five long, deep breaths and focus on your lungs and diaphragm as you do this. This is a quick and easy way to instantly feel calm.

Here’re also 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly).

3. Go for a Walk

Getting out in the fresh air can do you a world of good and promote peace of mind. Take a break and get the blood pumping – especially when the sun is shining.

4. Enjoy Nature

Too much concrete is never a good thing. Spending time in nature can actually make you feel younger, happier. Here’s why.

Spend time away from the city. Listen to the birds singing and enjoy the peace and tranquility.

5. Play with a Pet

Having a pet to play with is a great way to de-stress. Touch is a powerful sense and can ease tension and promote peace of mind.

6. Declutter

Have regular clear-outs. Clutter can add to feelings of tension and a clean, clear home allows a clearer, more peaceful mind.

Take a look at this article and learn How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster.

7. Acceptance

Acceptance is crucial for peace of mind. Accepting that there are few guarantees in the world and learning to tolerate uncertainty is a huge leap in the peace-of-mind stakes. Differentiate between what you can and cannot control.

8. Mindfulness

When we are mindful, we are fully present in the moment and acutely aware of our five senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell.

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Engage your senses. This leaves less time for your mind to worry and think about “what ifs.”

Here you can learn about The Power of Mindfulness.

9. Self Love

The more we like ourselves, the greater our peace of mind. We accept ourselves more and feel at ease in the world, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. We experience less insecurity and as a result, our inner peace is heightened.

Start trying these 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

10. Be True to You

This is another vital component of peace of mind. When we practice congruency, we behave similarly to the way we feel and think. When the way we see ourselves and the way the world sees us is the same, we are practicing congruency.

Problems arise when we see ourselves one way (for example, as a loving mother) but behave in ways that are at odds with how we would like to see ourselves (for example, neglect our children because we are too busy). Finding ways to keep our inner ideals and the way we behave similar is one of the keys to peace of mind.

Find out How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want.

11. Sense of Humor

Laugh a lot. The world is instantly a better place when you can see the funny side of life. Laughter is a great antidote for stress and releases hormones that help us relax.

12. Love Unconditionally

When you don’t expect anything back, it makes it easier to love without fear. When we love with conditions attached, our unmet expectations can create inner turmoil and feelings of resentment. Insecurities destroy peace of mind.

13. Go for Regular Health Checks

It pays to keep checks on your health and look after yourself. Letting ourselves go can indicate a lack of self-respect, and this in turn will affect the way we see the world and the way others interact with us. Be kind to yourself and make the most of what you have.

14. Take Stock

Every now and then, it’s a good idea to check whether you’re happy with the quality of your life. Do you like your job? Your relationship? Are you on the right track? Make adjustments if necessary to restore peace of mind.

15. Have Goals

This ties in with number 14. Goals keep us going in the right direction and give us a sense of purpose. Make your goals SMART: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

16. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

This relates to number 11. Learn to be more flexible in your approach to life. The more rigid our thinking is, the easier it is to experience situations that contradict our rigid ideas.

17. Live in the Moment

Instead of worrying about the past or panicking about the future, really enjoy the NOW. It’s all we have — this moment in time.

When we live in the present, the concerns of the past and future can’t worry us.

Here’re some tips on How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future.

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18. Worry Less

We apparently have somewhere between 30,000 – 75,000 thoughts per day, of which 80% are random “nonsense.”

Learn to “shelve” worrying by reminding yourself that most of your worries are unproductive and remove any chance of peace of mind.

Some advice for you who worry often: How to Worry Less: 90% of What You Fear Won’t Happen

19. Be Assertive

You have as much right to be here and to have an opinion as anyone else. When we become passive or submissive, we do ourselves a disservice.

Being assertive isn’t about your needs ahead of others (aggressive) or their needs ahead of yours (passive). Rather, it is about compromise —  a “win-win” situation.

Learn How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way.

20. Speak Your Mind

Don’t be afraid to say what you’re thinking. This goes hand in hand with being assertive.

Ask for what you want in life. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

21. Enjoy “Me-Time”

Time out is important. A little bit of selfish time to treat yourself or do exactly as you please sets you up for taking on the constant demands of life. Balance in life is crucial.

22. Frolic

The free online dictionary describes the word “frolic” as:

“To behave playfully and uninhibitedly; romp.”

All work and no play will stress anyone out. Make time for things you enjoy. Try to inject fun into situations that aren’t particularly enjoyable. Approach life with a playful attitude. When did you last let the child in you come out to play?

23. Let It Go

There are some things that you just cannot change, no matter how hard you try. Know when to cut your losses and detach (Just like Elsa does!)

When you start to let go of your past, these 10 things will happen.

24. Resist Guilt

Guilt is a negative emotion that removes peace of mind. Although it can motivate us (in the wrong way), it is still a toxic emotion.

Challenge the reasons for your guilt to make sure you aren’t placing unnecessary pressure on yourself.

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25. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Focusing on all the things in our lives that we are grateful for promotes peace of mind and reminds us that there are always positives. Sometimes we just have to nudge our awareness.

Try these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

26. See Failure as a Learning Curve

Failure has such negative connotations, but actually, everyone fails. How can you improve or learn anything if you never fail?

A healthy attitude towards failure encourages bravery. It’s not you that is the failure, instead it is what you tried that failed. There is a big difference.

27. Connect with Others

One of the true joys of life is sharing life with others and knowing that others “get” you. We feel less alone and feeling understood allows a fantastic sense of well-being.

28. Test Your Limits

You’ll never know your true potential if you always stay in your comfort zone. As the old saying goes, it is better to look back and regret what you did than regret all those things you wish you’d tried.

Learn to step out of your comfort zone: 10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear

29. Find Positive Outlets for Negative Emotions

Sports, online forums, like-minded people, hobbies…whatever takes your fancy. Suppressing negative emotions can lead to ill health. Release tension and frustration in a pro social way and feel a whole lot happier.

30. Slow Down

Why does everything need to be accomplished today? Often, we place unrealistic pressure on ourselves when there is no need to.

Challenge your impatience, be mindful and enjoy life in the moment.

31. Challenge Your “Shoulds” and “Musts”

Self-induced pressure never leads to inner tranquility or peace of mind. Replace “should” with “could” and live life more on your own terms.

32. Be Kind

It’s free and it makes a difference. When we show kindness, it gives us an inner boost, too.

You can try these 29 Ways to Carry Out Random Acts of Kindness Every Day.

33. Don’t Compare

The more we compare, the more we lose ourselves.

Forget what everyone else is doing or saying. What do YOU want? We all have our own paths to follow, and we are all learning and going through life at our unique pace.

Focus on your own journey and lose the stress of comparing yourself to what you think is going on in the lives of others. This is a surefire way to eliminate peace of mind.

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34. Affirmations

Talk to yourself positively by using affirmations. A good example of one that encourages peace of mind is: “No matter what comes my way, I will find a way to get through it.”

Believe in yourself and remind yourself regularly that you will be okay.

Need some more inspirations to affirm yourself? Here’re 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

35. Save a Little Money as Often as You Can

Putting money aside is always a good idea. If you can afford to save money regularly, do it. Start up a regular debit each month, and you won’t even realize it’s gone.

36. Less Is More

Money buys choice, but it doesn’t buy us the happiness we crave. Be content with the simpler things in life — that’s where the real long-lasting joy and peace of mind comes from.

37. Perspective

Always  keep your eye on the bigger picture. Will you feel this way next week, or a year from now? Will your current experience of life seem as important?

More often than not, you will be just fine. Foster peace of mind by maintaining perspective in life.

38. Monitor Your Thoughts

Our thoughts can make or break our quality of life. Make sure to choose thinking that works for you.

Talk to yourself as you would a best friend. Self-loathing serves no purpose and will undoubtedly extract joy from your life.

39. Stand up for What You Believe In

Whether it’s protecting animals or helping those less fortunate than yourself, follow your heart and your passion. Fight the urge to fit in and do what’s expected.

When you change yourself to suit others, you give away your peace of mind.

40. Get Enough Sleep

When we’re tired and grumpy, nothing goes smoothly. Get eight hours of sleep per night and regenerate your body.

Final Thoughts

The most important ways to achieve peace of mind involve being true to yourself, accepting that life is uncertain and watching your thinking. Many of us mentally “torture” ourselves daily with the things we tell ourselves.

Trust your thoughts less, pay less attention to the negative ones and focus on what you are thankful for in life, and you’ll be well on your way to inner peace of mind.

Featured photo credit: sean Kong via unsplash.com

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