Experiences > Things

April 12 2016

Featured image via supracer.com

‘Money doesn’t buy happiness’ is an old cliche we have all heard repeatedly throughout our lives. While we all know this is true, we all still wish we had more money in our bank accounts than we do now.

While the old adage is correct that no amount of money can make us happy forever, the secret to being happy lies in how you spend your money. What types of things do you purchase - material goods or experiences? The secret to finding more happiness in your life, according to research by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, is to spend your money on experiences rather than physical goods. Dr. Gilovich has been studying the relationship between money and happiness for over two decades and has observed that once basic needs are met, money has a minimal impact on our happiness.

Dr. Gilovich insists that experiences will make you happier than any material good because as humans, we adapt to our new things. Think about the last gadget you bought or your newest pair of shoes. When you got them, you were thrilled to have another addition to your house or wardrobe. But after time, you become so used to having it, that you lost the thrill it provided you when you first purchased it - leading you to want to buy something new.

But how can an experience, something that only lasts for a brief period of time, provide so much happiness when it is so fleeting? Dr. Gilovich indicates that the reason experiences tend to have a positive impact on our happiness and why our memories grow more golden over time is because they are a part of who we are, they help build and shape our character.

Think back to the first concert you ever attended and the memories you have from that experience. Now think about the first tv or computer you bought. Which gives you more happiness looking back on it? Sure the tv and computer were able to help you do a lot, but over time, their value diminishes. They become old, out of date, and replaceable. But your first concert is a memory you will never forget -even if the band was forgettable- because it is a part of who you are. Your tv and computer, no matter how frequently you use them, are not a part of you. They don’t shape your personality or define who you are as an individual.

One study by Gilovich even showed that if people have an experience they say negatively impacted their happiness, once they have the chance to talk about it, their assessment of that experience goes up.

We are the sum total of our experiences. Because of this, as event makers, we help shape and create experiences that will define people and impact them for the rest of their lives. We don’t just provide entertainment, but we help create happiness in others lives. Our events, no matter their size, provide a way for people to get out and build memories, have personal experiences, and spend time doing something that will better their lives.

“We consume experiences directly with other people,” says Gilovich. “And after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.” Our events and everything that goes into them, provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for attendees - experiences that will live far beyond when our events end.

It’s both amazing and humbling that we get to be apart of people's lives in some small way. As event makers, we get to connect with people and provide an atmosphere where lifelong memories can be made. Experiences are definitely better than things.