Friday, February 20, 2009

People are generally happier with good experiences than good materials

Buying life experiences rather than material possessions leads to greater happiness for both the consumer and those around them, researchers announced today at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
(Livescience report)
Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, commented, "Purchased experiences provide memory capital... We don't tend to get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object." (Italics added)

This answers a question that I've asked myself a while back.

About 2 or 3 years ago, a close friend remarked to me that we should spend on material things that are tangible, like getting a Sony's Play-Station, clothing, accessories and etc. That would be money well-spent. The problem is that I don't share his sentiment. So am I missing something?

I'm born to feel happy being around and spending time (and money) with friends. Hence I really enjoy cosmopolitan activities like clubbing, coffee sessions, and watching movies (be it cinema or DVD).

I enjoy other activities like taking adventurous holidays by going to deserted islands with minimum planning and budget. Such way of traveling gives me a sense of lostness and insecurity. Hence comes along the sense of excitement.
"... never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It's probably worth it." (Richard in The Beach)
But if you get the impression that I'm some typical urbanized metrosexual gen-Y existential pop-bred male who doesn't enjoy civilized and the so-called 'high' social indulgences like the academia and political-social concerns, then I apologize for the misrepresentation. For one, I'm as happy attending lectures by distinguished personnel, reading academic books and journals, and standing up against social tyrants.

Reading the report above not only helps me to understand more about 'happiness', but also justifies my sentiments. That's why I don't possess many materials (books don't belong to this category). I am Richard,
"...now at least I know it's not some place you can look for, 'cause it's not where you go. It's how you feel for a moment in your life when you're a part of something, and if you find that moment... it lasts forever..."
and one of them:
While Jesus was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. (Luke 24.51-52)
Memory capital.

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