We have all heard the saying that money can not buy happiness. Intuitively, we know this to be true but it is not completely accurate. The book Happy Money by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton cites and discusses the research behind this topic. One cited statistic was that people who earned $55,000 per year were only 9% happier than individuals earning $25,000 per year. They also noted that this increase of happiness seems to cap at $75,000 annually (to adjust for inflation, use this calculator). So what does this all mean? Experiences can lead to increased happiness.
Research cited shows that material purchases fade in terms of pleasure over time. The opposite is true with experiences, good or bad. For example, we all have had a vacation or something that did not go according to plan. Overall, the trip was disappointing because you were not able to do the things you had planned. On top of that, you were caught in the rain while trying to accomplish a particular activity. Hours were spent cold and soaking wet. It was miserable!
Over time, the misery starts to bring a smile to your face. The experience itself was still miserable, but now you think about the adventure as something conquered. You often times joke about it with your friends or family that were there with you. A bonding moment was created that will forever be cherished.
I am not suggesting you go out and buy miserable experiences. My point of all this is to pause and reflect on what we are doing daily. Is that next promotion, house, or item really going to bring the happiness that you desire?