Shopping is part of our modern culture. The problem is that most of us don’t only go to the shops when we need something, but for other reasons too. If you have a high paying job – or even if you don’t – money might be burning a hole in your wallet. You may give into amazing advertisements. You may want to feel better about yourself. You may partake in ‘retail therapy’ and shop when you feel overwhelmed or emotional.
Shopping may give you a temporary job. But is it happiness? The instant gratification of a new purchase will likely be gone in a few hours or days. You may still use the products, but it may not bring you joy. Or you may not even use it because you already have something similar, you don’t need it, or don’t like it. The problem with this kind of shopping is you are often trying to buy happiness. Unfortunately, the cliche is true. Money can’t buy happiness. At least not when it comes to products.
When your initial joy disappears, you will crave the urge to buy something else to feel the satisfaction again. Products are your drug and shopping is the addiction. It’s like taking another hit. But true happiness never comes from buying things. Can you buy happiness at all? Not happiness perhaps, but you can buy experiences that can bring you lasting happiness.
According to Cornell University researchers, experiences can help you get out of the cycle of searching for happiness by buying products. (1) Psychology professor Thomas Gilovic indicates travel may be your real solution. Because travel can bring you true happiness. When you book a trip, you will experience the same hit of joy and satisfaction as when you buy new shoes or a new phone. However, travel also gives you lasting memories, experiences in a different culture or nature, valuable time with people you love, a new perspective, and more. These happy memories can supply you with joy for a long time.
Other than travel, different experiences can bring you a similar amount of joy. Learn new skills. Pick up a hobby. See a play or a ballet. Play sports. Go to festivals. Sign up for a road race. Go to unusual events. Try anything new! These activities will create memories and become a source of joy. You may even meet new friends to build future memories.
At the end of your life, you will never say “I regret in investing money into experiences and memories.” But you may regret wasting money on useless objects. The choice is yours. But remember, traveling and experiences are the real secret of happiness.