In a bonus track titled “The Ride” off his latest album, Drake gives us a little insight into his life:
“I really don’t know much but, shit, I know a secret/ They say ‘more money, more problems’.. don’t believe it/ I mean, sure, there’s some bills and taxes I’m still evading/ But I blew six million on myself and I feel amazing.”
As it turns out, he’s actually onto something. A recent GOOD infographic shows that wealthier people are indeed happier than those less fortunate ….sort of.
Research has shown that when people begin to earn more money, they quickly get used to having it. Almost immediately, they begin comparing their possessions to those of their friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, the joy in getting the iPhone 4 quickly dissipates when your buddy gets the 4S just six months later. Well, psychologists have pinpointed how to make the gratification of spending your paycheck actually last: spend it on experiences, not goods. The graphic shows that experiential spenders have less anxiety, are less likely to be depressed, and are overall more satisfied with their lives than material spenders.
At first glance that may seem like the obvious conclusion. However, it’s the details of the study that makes this finding so interesting. “We adapt to things we do slower than just plain things.” In other words, the effect of positive experiences, such as going up north with your family for the weekend, lasts longer than ordering some quasi-useful gadget online.
“We’re also less likely to make social comparisons about trips and meals than cars and gadgets.” In reference to this statement, a contributor to the infographic described to readers his own experience on the matter:
“I recently bought a Prius and still find myself visiting priuschat.com to see if I got the best deal, an exercise which has no utility whatsoever. On the other hand, my recent hike to Machu Picchu remains an unequivocally positive memory.”
Seeing that not everyone can afford annual trips to Machu Picchu, what else constitutes experiential spending? People were surveyed and asked to give an “experiential rating” to particular amenities (rated 1-7). Purchasing a wine glass, a shirt, and a store gift card came in last place, all with ratings below 2.9. A concert ticket took first place (rated 6.2), while a ski pass, movie ticket, and book all came in for a close second (5.8-5.4).
Though spending in general has declined due to the recession, today the experiential economy yields greater discretionary spending than does the material economy. Personally I think this societal trend should be further encouraged. For one, most memorable experiences are quite difficult to outsource (disregarding expensive travel across seas). But more importantly, consider the experiential deficit our nation faces today: the lack of fun and safe after-school programs in less privileged areas, the innumerable animals in shelters just waiting to bring joy to a caring owner, the millions of elderly in desperate need for human care and company. By embracing the much-needed experiential economy, consumers and business leaders will, as research shows, be happier in the long run.
By: Tanya Rogovyk
(Infographic courtesy of Good Magazine)