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April 15, 2015

Spending money on experiences makes you happier than buying material things

The phrase, "Money can't buy you happiness," isn't necessarily true. Money can buy you happiness, if you spend it right, according to a psychology professor at Cornell University.

The key is to spend your money on experiences, rather than on material items, Dr. Thomas Gilovich told Co.Exist. 

While material objects may last longer than a vacation or sporting event, that doesn't mean they will make you happier for longer.

"One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation," Gilovich, who has been studying the question of money and happiness for more than two decades, told Co.Exist. "We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them."

It's counterintuitive that something like a physical object that you can keep for a long time doesn't keep you as happy as long as a once-and-done experience does. Ironically, the fact that a material thing is ever present works against it, making it easier to adapt to. It fades into the background and becomes part of the new normal. But while the happiness from material purchases diminishes over time, experiences become an ingrained part of our identity.

Furthermore, shared experiences can create stronger bonds to other people than shared consumption.

And keep in mind, experiences don't always have to cost money. A nice hike with friends can get you out in the fresh air and help you make memories that will last a long time.

Read more from Co.Exist.