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10 Reasons Why People Who Spend Money on Experiences Are Happier

10 Reasons Why People Who Spend Money on Experiences Are Happier

Imagine you are presented with two envelopes. One contains a diamond necklace and the other contains tickets for a 2 week trip to Brazil. Which would you choose?

The necklace is jaw-dropping and would elicit a chorus of admiring looks when debuted at your next soiree. But how long would it take for the novelty to wear off only to be relegated to the confines of your jewelry drawer?

What about the trip to Brazil? Sure, it’s not a tangible thing that you can display with a flourish on your décolletage. But wouldn’t your anecdotes about that canoe trip down the Amazon make for an interesting dinner party conversation?

Over the past decade, an abundance of psychology research has shown that experiences bring people more enjoyment longevity than material possessions.

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A purchase is generally done on a whim. Whichever end of the spectrum the purchase falls, be it expensive jewelry or a new pair of shoes it is usually appeasing an emotional need. Whether it’s to cheer yourself up or a need to obtain the latest status symbol, a material purchase can mask these needs. Temporarily.

Word has apparently gotten out as there is a huge segment of people who have shifted their thinking in this regard. Rather than continually being at the whim of the urge to consume, these people are opting for life enhancing experiences instead.

Here are 10 reasons why people who choose to spend their money on experiences are generally happier for it:

1. They know the thrill factor of a material purchase is limited

We’ve all been there. That subversive thrill as you whip out your credit card to purchase the latest [fill in the blank] that you have been ogling for months. But seriously, how long does that thrill last? A month? Until a newer version is released? Material goodies satiate us for a little while but once that feeling wanes, you find yourself back at the place where you started. Feeling empty and looking for something material to fill you up.

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2. They understand that an experience keeps on giving

An experience, whether it’s buying concert tickets or planning a trip to Europe, seems to offer infinitely more possibilities than treating yourself to a new wardrobe. A material purchase tends to lead you into a cul-de-sac of possibility; you traverse around a few times showing it off and then feel disillusioned once again. Experiences however set you out onto the open road, both literally and metaphorically. Who knows what will happen? Who you will meet? What you will see?

3. They understand experiences open the mind

An experience can fundamentally change you. Shake you to your very core and change everything you thought you knew about life. Or it can be just… fine, no big shakes. Even if it’s terrible, it ends up not really being that terrible after all. Especially in hindsight. When we choose to open ourselves up to a certain experience, we are effectively stepping outside of our usual routine. New sounds, smells, languages and tastes can spark fresh insight and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.

4. They know that anticipation is everything

Research has shown that experiences have a longer lasting effect on pleasure longevity. The first stage involves researching the experience that you want. The second stage comprises the actual booking process. And then the best stage, the anticipation, where you tick the days off the calendar smug in the knowledge that in X amount of weeks you will be road-tripping around Italy. When we buy less and do more, we tend to savor every single piece. A gadget is fun, for a little while, before you tire of its shiny buttons and move onto something else. The magic of being an experientialist is in the anticipation.

5. They understand its reduces Keeping-Up-With-The-Jones-itis

We are all guilty of it. Getting a secret thrill out of the flash of envy in your neighbor’s eye as you pull into your driveway in your brand spanking new BMW. It feels good to purchase the latest and greatest. Yet experiences in general are so personal that even if your friend regales you with tales from her adventures exploring windmills around Amsterdam it doesn’t even seem to tickle a nerve. Windmills just don’t do it for you, or clogs for that matter. You can’t compare experiences, who had the better holiday?

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6. They understand that the anticipation will be a positive experience.

We’ve all seen the media coverage of Black Friday sales. People waiting in line at 4am to get their mitts on the latest flat-screen TV. Pushes turn into shoves and before you know it two grown adults are fighting over the one remaining Panini press. Yet you don’t often see grown adults fighting over the set list at a Beyoncé concert. In fact people bond over these types of experiences, sharing their love of Queen Bey whilst shaking their fingers along to Single Ladies.

7. They know that money paid for memories is money spent better

If that trip to India was a disaster, there was still something to be gained from it. Even if it’s just a firm understanding that you and Indian food do not get along together. Time is life’s great eraser and those memories of the 14 hours spent curled around a toilet seat might seem pretty funny when you regale it to your friends’ months later.

8. They know that consuming leads to more consuming

It’s a vicious circle. The more you buy the more you want. So you finally saved up for those beautiful designer heels but just as you hand over your credit card you notice they also come in grey. Immediately the focus shifts and the satisfaction gained from purchasing the shoes wanes as you start to imagine just how well rounded your closet would be if you had both pairs.

9. They know that experiences provide better value for money

Material purchases have a much shorter shelf life than an experience does. Electronic gadgets are only as good as the latest version. What happens when another version comes out? However those dollars spent renting a house with friends in the countryside will provide you with a plethora of fond memories to look back on that practically guarantees you won’t need to shell out for an updated version.

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10. They understand that experientialism silences the inner braggart

Experiences tend to be more resistant to unfavorable comparisons, a wonderful family dinner in a restaurant is personally yours and difficult to compare. Far less chance for one-upmanship over whether you had the beef rather than the chicken. And yet those shoes you purchased that were featured in Vogue are less likely to stand the test of time by the time the latest Spring/Summer looks roll around.

At the end of the day, experiences tend to bring us closer to people. Humans are social animals and being closer to people tends to make us happier. In the act of making a material purchase, it tends to separate you from other people, whereas doing something tends to bring you closer.

So, next time someone hands you two envelopes which one do you choose?

Featured photo credit: julien. H via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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