I found a really interesting article about our relationship with things, "But Will It Make You Happy?" in the New York Times. I'd like to share some of the insightful quotes and discoveries. I took some paragraphs directly from the article because they sum it up better than I can.
It seems like the long held belief that, "Things will make me happy" is starting to show some cracks. The article said that, "New studies of consumption and happiness show that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects...It turns out that spending on leisure and services typically strengthens social bonds, which in turn helps amplify happiness."
The article talked about how the excitement from purchasing or acquiring quickly wears off. “We buy a new house, we get accustomed to it,” says Professor Lyubomirsky, who studies what psychologists call “hedonic adaptation,” a phenomenon in which people quickly become used to changes, great or terrible, in order to maintain a stable level of happiness. Over time, that means the buzz from a new purchase is pushed toward the emotional norm. “We stop getting pleasure from it,” she says.
The article also said that, "A study published in June in Psychological Science found that wealth interfered with people’s ability to savor positive emotions and experiences, because having an embarrassment of riches reduced the ability to reap enjoyment from life’s smaller everyday pleasures, like eating a chocolate bar. Alternatively, spending money on an event, like camping or a wine tasting with friends, leaves people less likely to compare their experiences with those of others — and, therefore, happier."
I'm finding there's a growing awareness that our dependence on things for happiness is not making us happy. People are recognizing that holding onto things way past the time they serve us is actually hindering our enjoyment of life. Simpler things that bring connection and immediacy in the moment are more fulfilling. That was my experience when I was on vacation earlier this week. Today I'm interacting with people at the library and it's making my day. I'm finding that these experiences take away any feeling of lack that I might have been having. I feel taken care of.
There's a lot more really good things that I didn't mention from the article, like some examples of people who simplified and began enjoying their lives.
You can read the article at:
But Will It Make You Happy?