Research indicates that in general, people are made happier by spending money with the intention of acquiring life experiences than by spending money with the intention of acquiring material possessions. What does that mean, exactly? The material possession, in other words, seems like a better investment. But when it comes to increasing our happiness and sense of well-being, research suggests just the opposite.
According to a growing body of social science research, the best way to increase the enjoyment, satisfaction and general happiness of your loved ones (not to mention office mates) is to give them real-life experiences. All you need is a reasonable sense of what your intended gift recipients like (or might like) to do with their time. Depending on the gift-receiver in question, it could mean almost any kind of in-person activity, adventure, or escapade, from concert tickets to restaurant meals, from guitar or cooking lessons to museum or amusement park passes, from rafting trips to factory tours to island getaways. “The happiness we get from our experiences give us more enduring pleasure.”
So before you rush out to the mall to purchase the latest electronic gadget for the kids, or a new sweater for your great aunt, consider giving an experiential gift. Even better if you are able to participate in the experience with your loved one!