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Science Explains Why You Should Prioritize Experiences over Stuff

Genuine happiness can only be experienced (not bought).

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Most human beings dream about becoming adults—at least young adults—every day of their lives (until they actually become them). All the mandatory logic, strategy, and responsibility that is all of the sudden required can be overwhelming, to say the least, and even contemplating lifelong dreams and ambitions can be daunting (let alone actually trying to achieve them). Mortgages and bills can be back-breaking, and human beings can rapidly become slaves to the lives that they live rather than being free to live the lives that they desire. At the end of the 20th Century, human consumers desired happiness, status, identity, and meaning, which are perfectly good aspirations to strive toward—as long as you strive for them in the right ways.

Psychologists connect materialism to life dissatisfaction.

Research by psychologists and sociologists in the 1990s connected materialism to narcissism, social anxiety, and life dissatisfaction. Buddhism argues that materialism is the roadblock to genuine happiness, and studies by UCLA psychologists Darby Saxbe and Rena Repetti suggest that stress levels increase as human beings acquire more material goods. When each new purchase deeply excites you, it can become extremely difficult or even impossible to experience true happiness when you’re not buying something (or when you haven’t just bought something).

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Genuine happiness stems from memories and experiences.

Psychologist Tom Gilovich researched happiness for decades, and he believes that experiences tend to result in a greater degree of true happiness as opposed to material goods. What’s more, Thomas Gilovich from Cornell University Psychology department argues that happiness levels are the same whether you’re purchasing something or traveling—but memories of traveling are much more enjoyable to experience and look back on than memories of buying things.

Welcome to the “experiential era.” 

In the 21st Century, adaptable schedules and independence are desired far more than stability and prosperity. So, rather than focusing or obsessing on material goods—whether you already realize exactly how frequently you do so or not—think, learn, and imagine! Contemplate who you really are as a human being, and consider what you genuinely desire in order to be happy and successful as a human being. Then—and this next step is key—take action to make your visions transform into realities. Experience life, experience the world, and then contemplate and consider some more. However—whatever you do or desire to do—don’t become chained or blinded by “century-old” materialism!




Happiness: Materialism vs. Experientialism
No Place Like Home
Want Happiness? Buy Experiences, Not Things, Says a Cornell Psychologist

*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here.

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