Science Says Spending Money On Life Experiences Not Money Makes You Happy
Tim Gurner, an Aussie property tycoon with half a billion in the bank, made the headlines last month when he said that millennials were choosing avocado toast over buying homes.
I mean, if only it were that simple. Squashed avo' toast for brunch or a two-bedroom flat? Hmmm, too difficult. Can I have a Bloody Mary while I think about it?
And while the internet went cray cray at Gurner because, despite being rich, he doesn't seem to understand the economy, there is an element of truth in there.
Millennials prefer to spend their money on life experiences rather than things. We might not be making bank (yet), but we are making memories.
And like with many issues, despite the grumblings of the baby boomers, we are on to something. Turns out that spending money on experiences rather than something more tangible like the newest iPhone makes you happier.
San Francisco State University published a paper about a study researchers conducted on why people still fork out cash for things rather than experiences. Apparently, even though people realise that they'll be happier doing something they enjoy, they still buy things because of the idea that a thing has more value.
"People actually do know, and accurately predict, that life experiences will make them happier," said SF State Associate Professor of Psychology Ryan Howell, co-author of the study. He's spent a long time researching the link between spending and happiness.
"What they really underestimate is how much monetary value they will get out of a life experience. Even though they're told experiences will make them happier and they know experiences will make them happier, they still perceive material items as being a better value," he explained.
Basically, we cannot let go of the idea that having a fancy car, or a nice flat, will make us happier than a holiday in the Maldives or taking three months off work to watch Jeremy Kyle.
The problem is focusing on its monetary value. When you're skint, or worrying about being skint, you might think of an experience as 'wasting' money.
But buying what you want is a temporary high. Once you've got a Rolex, you'll probably get bored and want another one.
The scientists in San Francisco did an experiment. They split their test subjects in two, and asked the first half to focus their spending on happiness, and the second half on value.
And unsurprisingly, the first half spent money on experiences, and the second half on things.
The idea that some people have of happiness as a fleeting moment of joy is slowly being disproven. Happiness is a fundamental part of being human and has benefits across the board. And employers are taking this very seriously - happy workers are not only more productive but generally more creative and just plain better.
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