In my pursuit of happiness, I spent thousands of dollars buying the palatial house, luxury cars, hi-tech devices, the big brand clothes and whatnot, thinking that I was buying my way to happiness.

I would be lying if I say that these things did not bring contentment and happiness in my life, but this materialistic happiness came with an expiry date; a look at the better worldly things and it faded away.

As I sit here, looking back and introspecting at my life after completing half a century, realization dawns on me that all the material things I have spent my money on have given me short-lived happiness, whereas what all I have spent on experiences is still repaying in form of sweet memories and re-fueling my life with energies and positivity.

I’m sure there are many of you out there who can relate to the transitory feeling of happiness, to all those, there’s just one thing that I’d like to say – start spending your money wisely because it’s not the thing but the experience that matters.

Start filling your life with experiences, not things so you have more stories to tell than stuff to show. I came upon this study by Paulina Pchelin & Ryan T. Howell of San Francisco State University which concludes that – “Money spent on experiential purchases is much more valued than the money that we spend on material purchases”. It is indeed true that investing money on time spent with loved ones or experience gained through interaction gives eternal happiness contrary to the short-lived happiness we gain by spending on material things.

Happiness From Buying Things Is Short-Lived

“Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.”

Roger J. Corless has rightly cumulated the futility of collecting material things in this quote. The happiness that we get from buying our desired things is out of bounds but is certainly short-lived as it does not last forever. We tend to grow out of this happiness as we get used to the new things with the course of time. As the newness of the thing wears off, so does the fun that we expected it to bring. These things are for our comfort, our needs; but once we adapt ourselves to these things, they tend to lose their initial charm.

There are various reasons why materialistic happiness cannot offer the contentment and satisfaction for a lifetime; the biggest reason being a paradox of possession. You earn possession of something and the thing that created ripples of excitement initially tends to become a norm with the passage of days. We start comparing and envying the things that are the in latest trend or the things that our friends have recently bought. The pleasure and thrill that we get from buying a new thing remain so long as we do not see something better than that and the cycle for wanting more from life never ends.

Experience, on the other hand, leaves little or no room for comparison. We tend to enjoy every experience that we create, because it is rightly said, “Every experience, good or bad, is a priceless collector’s item.” This creates a paradox of possession as we buy things thinking that the pleasure would last as long as the thing itself, however, it turns out that the material thing loses its charm way before the actual thing.

Happiness From Creating Experiences Lasts Forever

“You’re better off spending your money on experiences instead of things. When was the last time you felt nostalgic for a TV?”

Whether it is our television sets, mobile phones or any other gadget, these things can never create a feeling of nostalgia as much as experience can. We feel nostalgic for the experiences we create in our lives. Once we get used to the materialistic things they tend to become boring. However, the experience is something that remains in our memory forever. We will never forget our first mobile phone that we bought after breaking the money box because buying the first phone with our money is an experience in itself; however, what about the second or third phone; they are not recounted as experience in our memory and we forget about them as we move on to a better device. We may also forget the taste of the expensive new dish that we had with our friends but we will never forget the fun that we had enjoying that dish.

We may buy as many gadgets or cars as we want with money but these materialistic things can never replace the happiness that experience can bring. Spending money with the people we love, the hobby we cherish and the places we dreamed of is something that will bring the euphoric feeling and ultimately that is what actually matters in life. Not just the happiness, experiences also help in shaping up our identity, they help us define our purpose in life.

Dr. Thomas Gilovich, Psychology Professor, Cornell University, who conducted a research for 20 years on the same topic says, “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.”

“Small expenditures of money involving social interactions such as dining out, getting a manicure with friends, going to a concert or meeting up for drinks are a great way to de-stress, have a great time and create lasting memories. Little bits of happiness add up and when spread out, last a lot longer!”

About the Author:
Ankit Gupta is a valued member of, a leading buyers and sellers’ business marketplace based in India. Owing to the passion for his profession, Ankit has a knack of sharing his insights on ways to manage and spend money wisely for the ultimate life satisfaction. To know more about Ankit, you can follow him on his Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter handles.