Treehugger has a nice post on a recent Cornell University study that found “experiences” to be more rewarding than “products” because of people’s tendencies to evaluate happiness by comparing themselves to others.
According to the study, experiences are so effective at making us happy because we truly “own” them in that they become integrated into our characters and help shape our personalities. Material goods, on the other hand, can really only be “possessed” and rarely become a part of us in any meaningful way. Also, things we buy are subject to material degradation and devaluation, not to mention a gradual lessening in our appreciation for them. In contrast, experiences are transformed into memories, and even bad ones can be appreciated later on down the line.
Creating a distinction between owning and possessing something strikes me as a little vague and semantic, but I like the spirit behind it. Even if the moral of the study isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it is fun to remind ourselves that happiness can’t be bought.
More about experiences vs. products.