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The Secret to Happiness? Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things

Many things make us happy. We get the latest iPhone, pair of shoes or splurge on an expensive dinner and we instantly feel satisfaction. Fast forward a month or two and that satisfaction has faded away.

In this day and age, we’ve adapted to these material gifts – the increased availability of it and the constant version upgrades of these gifts makes it less exciting after a while. 

Experiences on the other hand has been proven to be a stronger happiness booster as it takes longer to adapt to them and they create greater imprints in our memories.

Experiences are also less likely to be compared to other gifts as they purely unique. You can always compare the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 7 but comparing a surfing lesson to an iPhone 7 is a completely different story.

Not only are experiences unique, they usually incorporate social involvement. Going fishing or going rafting will develop the bond between a relationship with other participants, further enhancing happiness.

The effort of providing the experience to a friend and being present during it is a gift in itself. Often people just want to have fun with others and have people that they can relate to and appreciate what their hobbies are.


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Gifting an experience is more than just one present, it also indicates how much you are willing to go a step further to understanding what type of likes and dislikes someone has.

When I look back on the past year, the things that stand out the most are the activities I’ve taken part in, the memories I’ve made through exciting experiences. If I try to recall the material goods that I’ve obtained, yes they were really great at the time, but looking at them they’ve already started devaluing to me.

So if your goal is to give a memorable gift that will have a longer appreciation period, ditch the box and ribbon and give an experience. The memories they’ll make will be well worth it compared to a material gift.

If you enjoyed the message of this article, you’ll love my free video on how to live a life full of purpose and meaning. Check it out here.

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Written by Justin Brown

I'm the CEO and co-founder of Ideapod, a platform for people to connect around ideas. I'm passionate about people thinking for themselves, especially in an age of information overload.

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