The following blog was written by renowned Positive Psychology researcher and author, Robert Biswas-Diener. Since I am a person who enjoys my material purchases, I did a fair amount of reflection on the first research finding. Then I noticed – when I purchase material things and use them I am engaged in an individual activity – when I take a vacation, dance lessons, or horseback riding – I am usually doing those things with others. Made me wonder if the research was measuring was the pleasure from the purchase vs. experience or solitary activity vs. activities with others? See what you think?
As always, I thank Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener for his great blogs. I share them a lot. He can be reached at www.postiveacorn.com
Everyone has heard the old quip “If you don’t think money buys happiness then you are not spending it right.” At the heart of this statement is the controversy over whether or not money factors into our individual and collective well-being. Research is clear that money makes a difference to personal happiness, but that it is not the most important factor and that it can be counterproductive to put too much stock in the emotional benefits of income.
In a newly published piece of research Ryan Howell and his colleagues extended the Van Boven studies. The Howell team was concerned with not a single purchase but spending habits over time. They discovered that certain types of people were more drawn experiential buys and were happier. What set this group apart was extroversion, empathy and a sensitivity to rewards. These people are folks with a tendency to want to plumb life for its emotional treasures and they instinctively understand that spending money on experiences is a bulls-eye technique for doing so.
This week, when you are done paying your bills and other fixed expenses try turning your mind to experiences. consider a coffee date or dinner with a friend, or the petrol it will take to transport you to a beautiful hike. Skip the spending on stuff and buy a slice of life instead.
Copyright: Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener 2012
Thank you, Andrea T. Goeglein, PhD