With the upcoming holiday season, people everywhere are scrambling to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. However, this gift may not be an actual gift at all. According to a study at San Francisco University, experiences such as vacations, concerts or sporting events make people happier than material objects. Television news channel CNN recently reported on this study on their website in an article titled “Experiences Make Us Happier Than Possessions.”
About 150 university students were surveyed about their recent purchases for this study. Most of the students were satisfied with their purchases regardless of what they were. However, those whose purchases were experiences reported feeling more satisfied with their purchase both during and after the event. They also reported feeling more “alive” both during the event and their reflection on it for the survey.
Not surprisingly, the study found that those students who felt satisfied by the experiences linked this satisfaction to their interactions with others at the event. These experiences met students’ needs to bond with others through social interactions, a key factor in a person’s happiness. Students attended these events with family and friends and reported feeling closer to these people as a result.
During the holiday season, which some say has been destroyed by materialism, this article is thought-provoking. Considering that this study was about the impact of people’s purchases on their happiness, it is surprising that it does not give more suggestions on how to be mindful of this when giving gifts rather than focusing on individual happiness. Although the students’ thoughts and feelings about purchases outlined could be about gifts as well as personal purchases.
Overall, I enjoyed this article because it told the truth about what makes people happy. Too often, the media focuses more on materialism and getting the latest toys during the holiday season. I give CNN credit for giving readers an alternative to the holiday shopping rush and maybe conjuring memories of Christmas vacations past. If anyone is interested in reading this article, they may do so here: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/02/10/happiness.possessions/