The pursuit of happiness


What do you covet the most? A brand new sports car? A large country pile with a pool? How about that dream watch you’ll buy if you hit the jackpot? Getting them may bring you joy, but a study suggests that it won’t last.

The study was conducted over a 20 year period by Dr. Thomas Gilovich (who is a psychology professor at Cornell University) concluded that spending your money on material possessions could be a waste of time (and money) as the happiness they bring is short lived compared to spending your money on experiences. That is the paradox of possessions; the assumption that the happiness we get from them will last as long as the possession itself, which is not true. Gilovich said ‘one of the enemies of happiness is adaptation’ meaning that the more familiar an object becomes to us, the less we find them exciting, limiting the happiness we garner from them.

On the flip side are experiences. ‘Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods’ said Gilovich. We can all love our material possessions, but they are never part of our being; whereas your experiences really become part of you. ‘We are the sum total of our experiences.’ (Gilovich).

People find it more difficult to quantify their experiences, making it more difficult to compare experiences than it would be to compare material objects. The fact that it is more difficult means that we tend to look upon them more favourably, and they are more enjoyable.

It also has the same effect even if the experience wasn’t as long as you’d expected. If you by something that doesn’t live up to your expectations, it’s always there, reminding you of your disappointment. With experiences, especially short ones, we equate the fact it lasted for a very short time as part of it’s allure, meaning we value them more as time passes. Searching for temporary happiness in objects has been described as enjoying ‘temporary puddles of pleasure’. The lasting memories from experiences are what bring us ongoing satisfaction and happiness, much more that material things.

Monese makes it easy to share, collaborate and enjoy experiences (even fleeting ones) by offering its customers the chance to send money instantly, in real time, use their Monese Contactless Visa Debit card at all Visa accepted outlets and track their spending easily via the app. It’s a stress free way to stay up to date with your money.


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