Think about your favorite material possession you bought this year. Now think about your favorite experiential purchase. Which gave you more happiness?


Investing In Traveling

Miami, Florida

By Lucas Compan, a guest storyteller

If you said the experiential purchase, you're in good company, according to Thomas Gilovichprofessor of psychology at Cornell University and co-author of The Wisest One in the Room: How You Can Benefit from Social Psychology's Most Powerful Insights (Free Press, 2015).

Science says it's totally fine to invest your money on traveling. You can't argue with facts. Thomas Gilovich explains what the latest research shows about wisdom, happiness, and personal biases.

Venice, in Los Angeles, CA

According to Dr. Gilovich, who has been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades. "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, and one of the enemies of happiness is adaptation."

Recent research from Cornell University In New York (2015) has confirmed that the key to happiness comes through experiences rather than things.

The New York City skyline after a stormy afternoon from Port Imperial, NY Waterway in Weehawken, New Jersey. Photo by Anthony Quintano.

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, and one of the enemies of happiness is the adaptation.
— Thomas Gilovich, Psychology professor at Cornell University, New York

So rather than buying the latest digital devices or a new Porsche, Gilovich suggests you'll get more happiness spending money on experiences like going to art exhibits, doing outdoor activities, learning a new skill, or traveling.

Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. 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.
— Thomas Gilovich

The Empire State Building in New York City

“We consume experiences directly with other people. And after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.
— Gilovich

Basilica of Saint Mary, in Florence, Italy

A Wise Guy's Guide to Happiness

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Gilovich's research has implications for individuals who want to maximize their happiness return on their financial investments, for employers who want to have a happier workforce, and policy-makers who want to have a happy citizenry.

The romantic and magical Venice, Italy

By shifting the investments that societies make and the policies they pursue, they can steer large populations to the kinds of experiential pursuits that promote greater happiness
— Thomas Gilovich and Amit Kumar, in their recent article in the academic journal Experimental Social Psychology.

San Francisco, California

How about taking the thoughts provoked by this research to heart? It should mean a shift in how you spend your discretionary income. Investing your money in experiences like going to art exhibits, doing outdoor activities, learning a new skill, or traveling would bring you much more happiness.

Happy traveling. Happy Life.

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