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Experiences Are More Valuable than Stuff According to Cornell Study

June 25, 2015       On Higher Ground
Enjoy Your Money
on Experiences.
Not Doodads.

Live theater experiences are one of the best gigs to remember for
always.  Don't just watch your favorite performers on DVD.
If you can attend a live concert or show, the memories will be
worth more than sitting down and watching them on your TV.

Poster image is all rights reserved to Cirque du Soleil.

The Lord teaches the same.  Now, economic behavioral research confirms it too.

An interesting study from Cornell University in England, reveals that happiness is the best indicator of a society in good stead.  Never the growth in GDP per se.

Don't let that Catholic priest ever fool you with that age-old CON that money can't ever make you happy:  then cajoling you to fork your holiday trip budget to 'charity.'  Money CAN make you happier--you get to put food on the table, sleep under a roof, and even get a mobile device that lets you listen to your favorite tunes and watch movies too!  But after your basic needs are met, buying more STUFF tends to provide fleeting joy and economic and behavioral science studies are confirming that money spent on experiences is more rewarding.

All of us who aren't part of the 1 per cent or so of the richest on the planet have limited resources--money can only go so far for most of us so we must know how to spend it.  Most people assume that getting STUFF or physical products will make them HAPPIER and their money extend itself into a tangible exchange--one that can be used and enjoyed longer...than something like a concert or a holiday.  But according to a 2 decade study from Cornell University, people get more happiness out of experiences than STUFF.

An image off the 2014 movie:  The Joneses, is a funny reminder how
keeping up with the world can be such a horrible and soulless
lifestyle.  The joke is on you if you're like them.

People tend to adjust to having something, a physical object. then it gets old and unless the object provides an experience like an old movie or a vinyl album of your favorite shoegazer band, you get tired of your toys too.  Having the latest iPhone or SUV might give you a kick for a while, then the tech gets old, the vehicle loses its charm, and you start wondering if all that money spent was worth the trouble at all.

The Cornell study suggests that people will get more awesome out of experiences like going to art exhibits, doing outdoor activities, learning a new skill, or traveling.  Their research revealed that money buys happiness, but only up to a point.

One amazing way to spend your good money is by learning new
things!  Writers who love fantasy and science fiction might
enjoy a Clarion West reading or writing workshop with their
FAVORITE authors doing a session!

People were asked to keep track over time how much they enjoyed spending money on major physical objects and on experiences like holiday trips.  The initial reports showed equal satisfaction with STUFF and a holiday, but over time, people got tired of the STUFF they got but they still get a kick out of remembering their holidays and concerts attended.

It's counterintuitive that something like a physical object that you can keep for a long time doesn't keep you as happy as long as a once-and-done experience does. Ironically, the fact that a material thing is ever present works against it, making it easier to adapt to. It fades into the background and becomes part of the new normal. But while the happiness from material purchases diminishes over time, experiences become an ingrained part of our identity.

Growing up, kids will treasure even funny and scary moments
like these instead of the latest expensive toys or gadgets.

Kids at Zoo video is
all rights reserved
to AFV Animals and You Tube

Even lousy experiences, ones that disappointed or were a stressful event, provided more value to people who talk about it and assess it in a different light.  Some even became funny stories or character building experiences that are priceless.  You may think that your STUFF (like toy collections for some) are who you are, but consider that experiences are more a part of you for always.  They change you for good or for naught.  

Summer Pole Class offered by Ukraine's Got Talent
champion, Anastasia Sokolova is an exclusive pole dancing
session for health buffs looking for something as good
as yoga and Pilates but with lots of rock and roll.
One life experience as precious as it is entertaining for
women fans of the celebrity.

You can bond with people by sharing experiences, the Open Source movement is one such idea that works with this in mind, STUFF is meant to be had exclusively by the few who can buy them and these people don't necessarily connect because they have the same material things, but a shared experience holds more value over time and are stories that can connect people to each other.

People tend to compare material goods--how many cars, how many features your gadget has. Because they can. Which can cause envy. Like kids' bragging rights and one-upmanship. Sharing experiences are less grating to other people.

The Cornell study identifies a key facet of how organizations can invest their time and resources to keep their employees happier or have individuals choose how their money pays them back better.  Even state officials and policy-makers can rethink their focus for having happier citizens.

"By shifting the investments that societies make and the policies they pursue, they can steer large populations to the kinds of experiential pursuits that promote greater happiness," write Gilovich and his coauthor, Amit Kumar, in their recent article in the academic journal Experimental Social Psychology.

Culinary tourism is one life experience also worth its weight in gold. 
Don't get stuck just watching Lonely Planet.  Go out there and live it too.

video is all rights reserved to
settime2588 and You Tube

From our own standpoint, most of Jesus teachings are centered around life experiences too.  How to deal with situations and what to do to get better as a person and keep safe. 

The good Lord does tell a rich man to sell all of his possessions as a test of faith and not as a taunting insult:  Are you happy when you have nothing but a promise of the kingdom?  A sure promise taken on faith.  If you are happy and assured of that promise, you don't even lose anything and you get to enjoy the abundance that you are blessed with and share it too.  One should never amass stuff for the vanity of owning the stuff, because when your stuff is lost, stolen or rotted, does your happiness and well being also go to hell? 

Jesus does not want you to lose heart nor your soul because of material attachments.  

This is what the clergy of some supposedly Christian religions do not teach explicitly because of the direct English translation of the original Greek leaves out plenty of meaning and insights.  

If society takes their research to heart, it should mean not only a shift in how individuals spend their discretionary income, but also place an emphasis on employers allowing a play-at-work environment  and governments taking care and providing recreational spaces and better services too.


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