Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nature: Take experiences over things

My latest dailymile blog post, Why exploring a new trail beats a new iPad every time, is the first in a new series over there called Destination: Run. The issue of what we as humans value more, experiences or things, has been a subject of debate for eons probably.

Interested in which of those you'll get more out of when it comes to a little thing called long-term emotional happiness?

Well, modern neuroscience is finding that experiences (such as exploring a new trail, taking your family on vacation or racing in an important-to-you event) offer a lot more for you in that department than the tangible items you buy. In the dailymile piece, I share a few bits of a recent TIME magazine article that explain the science behind this theory. But, the story's been in the news for quite some time. Last summer the New York Times reported:

[T]he practices that consumers have adopted in response to the economic crisis ultimately could — as a raft of new research suggests — make them happier. New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses. ...

Thomas DeLeire, an associate professor of public affairs, population, health and economics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, recently published research examining nine major categories of consumption. He and Ariel Kalil of the University of Chicago discovered that the only category to be positively related to happiness was leisure: vacations, entertainment, sports and equipment like golf clubs and fishing poles.

More at dailymile.

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