It’s often said that “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” Now, research carried out by Cornell University clearly states that it’s investing in a trip rather than a shiny new car that truly and sustainably increases our happiness. “As a society, shouldn’t we be making experiences easier for people to have?”
The study points out that buying a physical object – a car, a new pair of shoes, the latest iPad – makes us happy, but only for a while. After some time, the novelty wears off and you get used to having it, making the happiness less durable.
A one-off experience like a concert, dinner, art exhibition or weekend trip, on the other hand, takes up permanent residence in our Memory Palace – it ‘stays with us,’ and thus becomes part of who we are.
“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, who teaches Psychology at Cornell and has been studying the relation between money and happiness for over two decades. “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.”
This emotional value created through memory-making especially manifests itself when it comes to shared experiences. Gilovich: “We consume experiences directly with other people. And after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.” In other words, you’ll most probably feel a more meaningful connection with someone you backpacked through Vietnam with than with someone who owns the same Volkswagen.
Gilovich’ conclusion is simple: don’t spend your money on things. Indeed, he calls for both individuals and businesses to rethink how they spend their money. “As a society,” he wonders, “shouldn’t we be making experiences easier for people to have?”
At TRVL, that’s all we want. Through our booking platform and community of TRVL Agents, we intend to empower travelers all over the world, to make it easier for anyone to plan and book their dream trip, and to ensure that happiness – especially real when shared! – is just a few clicks away. Sharing is caring, after all!
You can read more about the study here.