Why experiences make us happier than stuff

3 reasons to help remind ourselves how to spend money

By now, many of us have read about experiences contributing more to happiness than stuff. For some reason, though, our brains have a hard time believing it. Or we might believe the theory in general, but when it comes to ourselves, we still buy more stuff than experiences in hopes of getting happier.

Understanding why experiences make us happier than stuff helps internalize the fact and hopefully guides our future spending habits. Here’s three to keep in mind:

  1. We get used to stuff, no matter how great something is. Experiences, on the other hand, are fleeting, so there’s no time to get used to them. However, they live on as memories—which grow sweeter with time.

  2. Experiences are more commonly shared with others, whereas stuff is usually enjoyed alone. But even solo experiences have the upside of giving a better story to tell. It’s more fun for us and the people hearing the story, and it makes others view us in a more positive light.

  3. It’s harder to make ourselves miserable by comparison if we focus on experiences over stuff. Experiences tend to be unique, whereas you can easily find people with better stuff, making you feel like your thing isn’t good enough.

Sometimes stuff solves actual problems. For example, if your only pair of shoes hurt your feet, a better pair will probably make you happier than a weekend trip to Paris.

The point is that buying fancy stuff for the sole reason of increasing happiness is not the way to go. Instead, you’re better off experiencing new things in life.


Get new letters by email


P.S. I’m building a course called Ultimate Focus — Finding Your North Star. If you feel like you lack purpose and direction in life and would like to change that with a systematic approach based on research, you can read more about the course and sign up as one of the 50 initial students here: https://juhola.gumroad.com/l/ultimatefocus