By TWD Australia

June 15, 2016 | Archive 2016

Things vs Experiences – What Science Says You Should Spend Your Dollars On

Today We’re Talking About The Big ‘H’ Word.

Happiness – it’s a state we all want to maintain and the trending subject of study for many psychologists today.

Sadly, the messages we get from the media and popular culture is that happiness is achieved through the accumulation of more things. And not just any type of things … but the latest, coolest, newest, celebrity endorsed things that give you a slight quiver after viewing the price tag.

With the modern ability to become a voyeur of celebrities and insta-famous across multiple social media platforms, it’s hard not to get sucked into the vortex of luxury and branded consumption.

While Gwyneth Paltrow of lifestyle blog GOOP would have us believe that a set of tall oxidized bronze candlesticks with trumpeted rings are an essential finish for every home and a purchase that will induce monumental glee, research by scientists paints a very different picture of what really engenders human happiness.

twd-news-055Experiences, it seems, are what truly lead to greater happiness, according to research pioneered by psychologists Tom Gilovich and Leaf Van Boven in 2003, and now supported by emerging new studies.

So what is it about experiences that trump material goods in the happiness stakes?

Here are 4 reasons to favour experiences over things when choosing where to spend your dollars.

  1.    Experiences are remembered with a nostalgic lens

Psychologists have found that we humans like to make past experiences seem better in our mind, often to align it with our initial expectations. They call this trickery “positive re-interpretation,” which essentially means we hold onto the best bits of the experience in our memory and tend to conveniently overlook the tiresome and bothersome bits. That’s why when someone asks us about our trip to New Zealand we rave about the beautiful scenery and amazing hikes, whilst ignoring the tedious airport lines and the time you almost froze.

  1.   Stuff gets boring

Hedonic adaptations causes us to quickly tire of material possessions once these assimilate into our day-to-day lives. In other words, once we get used to it, it doesn’t bring us as much joy. So that new mobile phone you were super excited about and waited in a one hour service line for loses its charm after a couple months. This doesn’t seem to happen with experiences such as holidays, which create fond memories that we tend to hold onto for years to come.

  1.    Experiences are more unique and personal

Have you ever been stressed by a new material purchase because you are stuck in a comparison nightmare? Unlike material purchases like a new fridge or laptop, we tend to worry far less about picking the “right” experience and are less likely to regret our choice or care about the status implications. When choosing a new object, we compare it directly with the alternatives, but experiences are much more subjective and once we have them, they’re ours to interpret how we like. So while you may enviously compare your new watch to your colleagues’, the enjoyment of your Brazil vacation is not undermined, because the memories are sentimental to you.

  1.    Anticipating experiences is exciting; waiting for things is not

Hands up, who loves waiting in a grocery line or for a new package to be delivered? Yeah, I didn’t think so … Humans are impatient creatures especially when it comes to getting things, which is why “instant gratification” has become a buzz phrase for this generation. We want everything now (or yesterday). On the other hand, anticipating you’re approaching mid-year vacation is kind of fun, right? There’s the googling images of the city and hotel, researching the restaurants and sites you’ll visit, and of course, the multiple sessions of bragging to your friends and colleagues about the upcoming trip. In fact, the sooner you book, the more happiness you can expect to extract from your holiday!

It all comes down to assessing how you can get the most happiness bang for your buck.

Now with the knowledge that buying an experience is scientifically proven to deliver more happiness and satisfaction, you’re best positioned to make the right spending choice.

Interested to find out how you could be saving or earning some extra spending dollars to be able to experience all the things you want to do? Give us a call on 1300 893 000 or send us an email at to chat further.

Words by TWD Australia.