Happiness

In the consumer-driven culture we live in, it can be difficult to understand that there are things in life that mean more than our material possessions. Our relationships with others and our experiences, however, do offer us more value than any amount of stuff.

Happiness Derived from Stuff is Fleeting

A 2010 study from Cornell showed that people were more satisfied when they spent money on experiences instead of on material goods. Our experiences are unique to us and cannot be compared to the experiences of others. But when we have stuff, it’s all too easy to compare what we have to what someone else has and to feel like our own possessions are being judged by our social circle.

We can even become unhappy after buying things: we second-guess our purchase, spend time thinking about all the things we didn’t buy, and we quickly move on to wanting the next latest and greatest item on our wish lists.

It’s worth noting that possessions that offer a limited amount of happiness and enjoyment won’t last forever, either. Your favorite sweater will eventually become threadbare, the car you thought you had to have will one day no longer run, and your gadgets and electronics expire faster than some of the food in your pantry.

Instead of investing your time and money into stuff that is unfulfilling and will wear out sooner or later, focus on trying new things and building important relationships.

The Importance of Trying New Things

If you’re not convinced that money spent on new experiences is far more valuable than what you spend on stuff, consider this: when we experience something new, our brain processes that information differently than it processes familiar situations.

The way in which the brain handles new experiences changes how we perceive time. Familiar information is quickly recorded in the mind and makes it seem like time is passing more quickly; new experiences, however, are processed more slowly which makes time feel like it is moving slower.

The value of having time slow down as we age can’t be overstated. If we want to get the most out of the rest of our years, we need to seek new experiences.

Related: Things Your Need to Try in Your Twenties

Why We Need Solid Relationships

Relationships with other people are necessary because they provide us with things we cannot provide ourselves. We depend on others for companionship, affection, and support. Without these factors, we feel lonely, sad, and depressed. Having healthy relationships with others positively affects our overall health and well being – and there are few things more valuable in life than our good health.

Material things only offer us a fleeting, superficial happiness that fades as we quickly shift our focus to the next big thing available for us to buy. Relationships, on the other hand, offer us lasting joy, support, comfort, companionship and love and have positive impacts on our physical health.

Trying new things has the power to change our perception of time; feeding our brains new information on a regular basis can help us avoid that all-too-familiar feeling that time is flying by faster and faster each year. Only people and experiences – not more stuff – can provide us with real and lasting value.

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