|Happiness, II

More research on happiness:

Study: Experiences make us happier than possessions (Elizabeth Landau, CNN.com, 10 Feb ’09)

Psychological research suggests that, in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions.

Four primary reasons are believed to contribute to this phenomenon. First, enduring memories:

…the initial joy of acquiring a new object, such as a new car, fades over time as people become accustomed to seeing it every day, experts said. Experiences, on the other hand, continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event occurred.

Second, social factors:

“When people spend money on life experiences, whether they also take someone with them or buy an extra ticket or whatever, most of our life experiences involve other individuals,” Howell said. People were fulfilling their need for social bonding while having these experiences, he said.

Third, feelings of vitality:

Another reason for increased happiness in experiences, the researchers found, was that people felt a greater sense of vitality or “being alive” during the experience and in reflection, Howell said.

Fourth, fewer comparisons with others:

…people are less self-conscious when comparing experiences than they are about possessions. It will probably bother you more that your friend’s home theater is better than yours than if your friend saw more sights on her South Seas vacation, Gilovich said.

Howell points out possible ways to apply these findings in the public sector as well as our private lives.

“If you create municipalities with more parks, bike trails, more hiking trails that make experiences easier, then I think you’re going to have a happier population,” he said.

[click here for previous post on happiness]

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