More Useful Stuff
Whatever money’s subtleties, you can at least rest assured that the products you buy with it are more or less worth the price. After all, this is money’s job – to tell us what stuff is worth. Right? Well, no. Money often confuses even this simple task. For instance, studies show that the owners of luxury cars are generally no happier driving them than the owners of hatchbacks, and that owning a holiday home has no impact on happiness. “This process of hedonic adaptation sets in. We start taking for granted almost any change in our lives,” says Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Riverside. When it comes to satisfaction, she says, you’d do far better buying an experience. “We are the sum total of our experiences,” Lyubomirsky says. “People don’t define themselves so much in terms of their possessions.” One University of Texas study found that compared with material purchases, experiential purchases made materialists just as happy.