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Why Spending Your Money on Experiences-Not Things-Will Make You Happier

Science proves it!
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There's a famous expression that goes, "Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." The phrase rings true for more than just travel though—all sorts of activities and experiences can bring you more joy than any material object ever would. Don't believe us? Science has evidence to back it up.

Cornell University psychology professor Dr. Thomas Gilovich conducted a 20-year study that analyzed how product purchases versus experience purchases make us feel, according to Big Think. The research indicated that purchasing trips, tickets for activities and events, and or other experiences leas to greater happiness than buying a tangible possession. What's more, the feeling of bliss associated with adventures lasts longer, too.

In fact, the benefits that come from amazing experiences—trips around the globe, amusement park visits, sporty activities, and even the likes of an art class—last longer after the event is over and ultimately helps to form our identities. "People often think spending money on an experience is not as wise an investment as spending it on a material possession," Dr. Gilovich told Cornell Research. "They think the experience will come and go in a flash, and they'll be left with little compared to owning an item. But in reality we remember experiences long afterward, while we soon become used to our possessions. At the same time, we also enjoy the anticipation of having an experience more than the anticipation of owning a possession."

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The expert and his team also listed several reasons why material purchases end up feeling less than satisfying. For instance, he found that the happiness associated with buying items fades fast. "One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation," Gilovich said. "We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them." Goods and products also tend to make us feel impatient, whereas the anticipation for a vacation or event is exciting.

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And while you may own or use that new piece of tech, clothing, or furniture for months or even years—it won't really last forever. "Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods," Gilovich said. "You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences." So the next time you receive your tax return or you're budgeting for the year ahead, put that extra cash towards a Caribbean cruise, expensive cooking class, road trip with your mom. You'll be happy you did it!

(h/t Forbes)

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Jessica Leigh Mattern
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