Science Proves Happiness Comes from Experiences Not Things

Science Proves Happiness Comes from Experiences Not Things

You may have grown up thinking, “The more money I make, the more things I can buy and the happier I’ll be!”

Research by Cornell University proves the opposite.

The study results show money can influence happiness, but only to a certain point. On the other hand, the enjoyment we derive from experiential purchases begins even before we buy and last much longer.

The researchers discovered that people thinking about impending experiential purchases, such as ski passes or concert tickets, have higher levels of happiness than those who anticipate spending money on things.

Plus, the memories you have following an experience make it a happiness extender. A year later you might look back through snapshots and send a photo to your best friend saying, “Remember how cool it was when we hung out with the band members after that killer show?”

Whereas when you purchase a thing, there’s a momentary rush of accomplishment that soon fades. Think about how many awesome, trendy clothing items you have purchased that were worn for a season but now crammed in the back of your dresser drawer. (Guilty.)

Travel = Happiness

I find this to be especially true around travel. Every time I book a trip I get excited immediately after and it always builds leading up to my trip. I start planning out my time and daydreaming about the adventures to be had. I research articles, gawk at photos and relish in the idea of being on a tropical beach until the moment I arrive.

While on a trip I try to mix it up with things that cost money and others that are free like hiking, talking to the locals or watching a sunset. I rarely purchase expensive souvenirs or clothing. Instead, I try to find a little something symbolic that’s unique to the destination. It could even be a (free) seashell from the local beach!

8 Experiences that Can Increase Your Happiness:

  1. Check a trip off your travel bucket list.
  2. Take a hike somewhere new!
  3. Go on a bike ride in an area of your city you still haven’t explored.
  4. Plan a picnic for you and a loved one.
  5. Play in the park with a pup. Don’t have one? Borrow a friend’s or invite them along!
  6. Grab your mat for some outdoor yoga.
  7. Re-read one of your favorite books. I promise you’ll discover something you hadn’t before.
  8. Invite a friend over for a pajama party and pop in your most embarrassing DVDs (we all have them).

A lot of these experiences are low cost, or free! Try something new and see how it makes you feel.

What recent experience made you burst with happiness?


  1.' September 24, 2015 / 3:47 am

    Grocery shopping with bae is always a great experience 😉

    • September 25, 2015 / 10:49 pm

      Adorable. 🙂

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