You Can Buy Happiness if It’s an Experience

The idea that money can’t buy happiness has been drilled into us throughout our lives. We have been told that material possessions can never bring us true joy or contentment. However, new research indicates that this common belief may not be entirely accurate. According to recent studies, there is a way to purchase happiness, but it’s not through material goods – it’s through experiences.

Why Buying Experiences Leads to Lasting Happiness

Purchasing material goods can provide a brief moment of pleasure or gratification, but this feeling is often fleeting. On the other hand, experiences have a lasting impact on our happiness levels. A study conducted by San Francisco State University found that people who spent money on experiences, such as concerts or vacations, reported feeling more fulfilled and satisfied with their lives, even weeks or months later. The reason for this is that experiences create memories that we can fondly look back on and cherish for years to come.

you can buy happiness if it's an experience
you can buy happiness if it’s an experience

The Psychology of Experiential Purchases

Another reason why purchasing experiences leads to lasting happiness is due to the psychology behind it. Our brains are wired to seek out new experiences and to crave the feeling of excitement and adventure. When we buy an experience, we are essentially creating a mini-adventure for ourselves. This novelty factor stimulates our brains and triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward.

How to Make the Most of Your Experiences

While purchasing experiences can bring happiness, it’s essential to approach these purchases consciously and intentionally. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your experiential purchases:

Plan ahead: Taking the time to plan your experience in advance can increase your anticipation and excitement.

Savor the moment: When you’re in the midst of your experience, take the time to savor it fully. Be present in the moment and soak up all the sensations.

Reflect on it later: After your experience, take the time to reflect on what you learned or enjoyed. This reflection will help solidify the positive memories and feelings associated with the experience.

Types of Experiences That Bring Happiness

The types of experiences that bring happiness can vary from person to person. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Travel: Visiting new places and immersing yourself in different cultures can be incredibly fulfilling and exciting.

Learning: Taking a class or workshop to learn a new skill or topic can provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Outdoor activities: Spending time in nature through activities like hiking or camping can have a soothing and rejuvenating effect on the mind and body.

Social events: Connecting with others through events like concerts or festivals can create feelings of community and belonging.

Overcoming the Obstacles to Purchasing Experiences

While purchasing experiential purchases can provide lasting happiness, there are some obstacles that can make it difficult. One significant issue for many people is the cost associated with these experiences. However, it’s essential to remember that you don’t have to break the bank to have a meaningful experience. You can start by exploring free or low-cost experiences in your community, such as nature walks or art exhibits. Another obstacle is time. Many people feel that they don’t have enough time to engage in experiential purchases, but it’s essential to prioritize these experiences in your life.


While money can’t buy happiness, purchasing experiences can certainly bring joy and fulfillment to our lives. By approaching these purchases with intention and making them a priority, we can create lasting positive memories and increase our overall satisfaction with life. So, go ahead and splurge on that concert ticket or travel adventure – it’s an investment in your happiness that’s sure to pay off.


1. What does it mean to “buy happiness” through experiences?

The concept of “buying happiness” through experiences refers to the idea that spending money on meaningful and enjoyable experiences, rather than material possessions, can lead to greater overall satisfaction and well-being. Examples of such experiences include traveling, attending concerts or events, learning a new skill, or sharing memorable moments with loved ones.

2. Why do experiences tend to bring more happiness than material possessions?

Experiences tend to bring more happiness than material possessions because:

  • Experiences create lasting memories that can be cherished over time
  • They often involve social connections, which are vital for emotional well-being
  • Experiences provide opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery
  • They are less likely to be compared to others’ possessions, reducing feelings of envy or inadequacy
  • The anticipation of an experience can also contribute to happiness

3. How can I prioritize spending on experiences over material items?

To prioritize spending on experiences, consider the following strategies:

  • Create a budget that allocates funds specifically for experiences
  • Reflect on past purchases and identify which brought the most joy and satisfaction
  • Before making a purchase, ask yourself if the item will contribute to long-term happiness or if there’s an experience that would bring more value
  • Seek out affordable or free experiences, such as local events or outdoor activities
  • Share your experiences with others to create lasting memories and strengthen relationships

4. Can material possessions ever contribute to happiness?

Yes, material possessions can contribute to happiness in certain circumstances. Items that facilitate positive experiences, improve quality of life, or hold sentimental value can bring joy and satisfaction. However, it’s essential to strike a balance between material possessions and experiential purchases, focusing on what truly matters for your overall well-being.

5. Are there any downsides to focusing solely on buying experiences for happiness?

While experiences can bring happiness, focusing solely on them can have some downsides:

  • Neglecting financial responsibilities or overspending on experiences can lead to stress and long-term financial issues
  • Constantly seeking new experiences may hinder the appreciation of simple, everyday moments
  • An excessive focus on experiences might cause some individuals to overlook the value of material possessions that genuinely improve their lives

It’s important to find a balance between investing in experiences and maintaining financial stability while appreciating the happiness that can be found in both material items and experiences.

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