The Science of Happiness: Buying Happiness

I’m curious: today I read again about the “science” of happiness, and one of the things mentioned in the article is the oft-quoted “buy experiences, not things”. How many studies, really, have there been done on to prove this? What’s the definition of an “experience”, as opposed to a “thing”?

The article provides the example of ”taking your family to Disney World, rather than things like a new television.” I’ve seen this sort of comparision many times, but is it really true? Is it not true that “things” provide “experiences” too? And when it comes to a “thing” like a television, does the viewing of every new programme (e.g. movie, drama serial, or sporting event) not count as a new “experience”?

I remember fond memories of playing games on my first computer and adventures I’d had on my first bicycle, both of which provided me years of enjoyment. My point is that “things” can provide “experiences” too, and this rule when used without much thought to the underlying reasons could well backfire. If you’re not keen on an “experience”, you’re not going to get much out of it.

If there are “things” that will give us that lift, then I don’t see why we shouldn’t go for them instead.

Sour Grapes

I’d recently read a post called It’s Not So Easy to be Rich that talked about the difficulties of, you guessed it, being rich.

Being one of the un-rich, I couldn’t help but feel a little happier reading about the unhappiness that comes with richness. Maybe, I thought, being rich just isn’t that great after all. And while I’m not rich, yet, that’s great news to hear.

The fact that this seemed to me a lot like a case of sour grapes didn’t escape me. Am I wrong to feel this way, or is it just a natural response to avoid the pain involved in jealousy?