A variety of research shows that most people are far happier when buying experiences vs. buying material goods.
Why? According to the literature:
- Experiences improve over time. Aging like a fine wine, great experiences trump physical items, which often wear off quickly (“Ugh, my phone is so old!”). Experiences can be relived for years.
- People revisit experiences more often. Research shows that experiences are recalled more often than material purchases.
- Experiences are more unique. Comparisons to others can often make us unhappy, but experiences are often immune to this as they are unique to us. Nobody in the world will have the exact experience you had with your wife on that trip to Italy.
- We adapt slowly to experiences. Consumer research shows that experiences take longer to “get used to.” Have you ever felt really energized, refreshed, or just different after coming back from a great show/dinner/vacation? It is harder to replicate that feeling with material purchases.
- Experiences are social. Human beings are social animals. Experiences get us out of our comfort zone, out of our house, and perhaps involved in those close relationships we need to be happy.
“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” Francis Bacon