Spend money on impressions, not things

Spend money on impressions, not things

You probably work hard every day. Therefore, the money that remains after paying all the bills and purchases is the most necessary, you need to spend it properly. Not sure where to start? Scientists recommend thinking about what brings you happiness.

The paradox of property

A 20-year study by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, showed that you shouldn’t spend a lot of money on things. The reason for this is very simple – the feeling of happiness they bring quickly disappears.

And there are also reasons for this:

We get used to our things. What once seemed new and exciting is fast becoming commonplace.
We continue to raise the bar. New purchases lead to new expectations. Once we get used to something new, we start looking for something better after a while.
We always try not to live worse than someone else. That’s why we constantly compare ourselves with someone, and when we buy a new thing, the enthusiasm disappears as soon as we learn that a friend has bought something better.

“The main enemy of happiness is an adaptation,” says Thomas Gilovich

We buy new things that make us happy, but this feeling only lasts for a while. We only admire them first, and then we adapt

Thomas Gilovich

The paradox is that we think that the feeling of happiness from the purchase will last a long time. Intuition tells us that the main factor is that we see a thing, hear it, can touch it, unlike, for example, a journey that will sooner or later pass. But this is not correct.

The power of experience
Gilovich and other researchers have found that fleeting experience brings more happiness, and here’s why:

The experience becomes part of our identity. We are not our things, we are the accumulated experience, what we saw and did. After all, buying an Apple Watch will not change anything in our lives, but a trip to the mountains will complement it with pleasant memories.

Our experience is a bigger part of us than the accumulated material goods. You may like your things, you may even identify some part of yourself with them, but they are not you. All that matters is your experience. We are the sum of our experience

Thomas Gilovich

The comparison does not matter much. We do not compare experiences in the same way as things. For example, in one study, people were asked which salary they would choose – higher, but it would be lower than their colleagues, or lower, but which would be higher than their colleagues. Many of the respondents found it difficult to determine. However, when asked about the length of their leave, most respondents chose long weekends, even if they were shorter than their colleagues.

Waiting is more important. Gilovich studied how the waiting process works and found that if you are waiting for a vacation, such an expectation is exciting and satisfying. But waiting for a new thing causes nothing but stress and irritability. The new experience is fun even at the planning stage, and it will last a very long time.

The experience is fleeting (and that’s good). Was one of those cool things you bought as cool as you thought?

Research shows that most people think of expensive things after buying them something like this: “Sure, it’s a cool thing, but it’s probably not worth the money.”


Gilovich and his colleagues are not the only ones who believe that experience makes a person happier than things. Elizabeth Dunn, a doctor of psychology from the University of British Columbia, also studied the issue, calling the feeling of happiness gained from the purchase a “deceptive pleasure.” In other words, this feeling of happiness quickly disappears and makes us want more and more.

So remember, things can have a longer “shelf life” than experience, but it is the memories and feelings that are more important.

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