What Makes You Happy? Experiences.

As an alum of Chicago Booth, I look forward to reading their magazine.  It has an article or five I always find interesting.  I tore one below out and wanted to blog about it.

The study is “Cultivating Gratitude and Giving Through Experiential Consumption” by Jesse Walker, Amit Kumar, and Thomas Gilovich.  Buying experiences makes you more generous.  You know where you can do that?

If you are a business, Kapow.

If you are an individual, Dabble.

In my own family, we quit giving material gifts at Christmas years ago. Now we try to organize an experience.  Even if we stay home, we do the Carter 12 Days of Christmas.  We pick something to do in the city that we haven’t done before and do it together.  We find we remember the experiences a lot more than a gift.  I remember being in a warm rainstorm in the middle of a Balinese rice paddy with my wife and kids more than I remember any gift I received.  I remember being in Istanbul’s Chora Church on Christmas morning and being moved by the mosaics telling Mary’s story than I do any gift.

This Father’s Day, maybe give an experience instead of a gift.

For corporates, I think this is also the power behind Kapow.  Customers and employees will value and remember experiences more than any material swag.  Creating a sense of gratefulness among them can be powerful for a company.

When the researchers analyzed things like Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews, reviewers were more likely to use language that involved gratitude when it came to experiences.  Kumar says, “People are more grateful for what they have done than for what they have.”

5 thoughts on “What Makes You Happy? Experiences.

  1. .
    The state of happiness is a fleeting and mercurial state. At different times, we have different levels of happiness, different hurdles to our happiness.

    When I spent a year sleeping on the ground in an inhospitable environment, I was quite happy to sleep in a bed — deliriously happy. Throw in some air conditioning and a hot shower and I was Adam of the Adam & Eve thing.

    It is all relative.

    The happier we get — particularly when material things are involved — the harder it is to find that next level of happiness as if we have developed a tolerance for the happiness drug and need something more to get that same heightened state.

    There is, however, something we can control. We can keep ourselves from being unhappy. We can focus on all the goodness of life and talk ourselves down off the ledge. When we do that, something better seeps in to fill the void.

    The older I get the more I realize how happy I am. The happiest I am is when I am swimming in the ocean — some big waves would be nice — and hanging at the beach. It does not take much to make me happy.

    Or, a cabin in the woods needing renovating?


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