Experience Is The True Key To Happiness

We’ve been digging into a growing body of research on the importance of human experience and the links between experience, happiness, social cohesion and what some economists call the “Experience Economy”. The related concepts of design, user experience, and customer service feed into the bigger experiential picture but in this article we focus on the link between experience and happiness. Enjoy!

The Long-Lasting Impact of Experience

By Kris McNeal & Dave Grandmaison

Humor us for a minute and close your eyes… well don’t actually close them because then you wouldn’t be able to read this.

Think for a moment, if you will, about your very first cell phone. How did you feel when you bought it? How do you feel when you think about the phone now? Ok. Now think about your last vacation – wherever it may have been… How did you feel when you planned it? And… how do you feel when you reflect on it now?

Which memory do you more strongly associate with happiness? Compare your emotional connection between the possessions you own and the experiences you’ve… well… experienced.

We recently came across an article in The Atlantic by James Hamblin that ties together some interesting ideas about the source of happiness in our lives. The article described some of the recent psychological research connecting true happiness to human experience. According to the article, it’s not material possessions that make us happy… it’s our experiences.

Experience is the Key to Happiness
For many readers this is no grand discovery. In fact, this philosophy is the foundation of how many of us live our lives. And without a doubt, The Duluth Experience holds this idea at the core of our company mission. We’ve built our company on the idea that experience is a major source of happiness in life and allows us to gain a more intimate understanding of the world.

Related: The Experience Economy at work in Duluth:
Craft Beer and Craft-Inspired Business

The Atlantic article summarizes some interesting research on the source of happiness. The findings indicate that people who spend money on experiences tend to be much happier than those who spend their cash on material possessions. Anticipation, they suggest, drives happiness and the psychological benefits of spending money on experience accrues before the purchase has been made, during the experience, and afterwards.

In other words, happiness derived from experience has a long-lasting effect.

Lake Superior Duluth Kayak TourAccording to the article, experiential purchases tend to be associated with identity, connection, and social cohesion. Looking back on purchases made, experiences make people happier than do possessions and they provide a stronger social connection to others – those who have shared the experience and those who gain a sense of happiness from hearing about the experience.

These solid, exciting connections link to other memories in the brain and help connect our experiences together in a meaningful way. In the end these experiences help us gain a deeper understanding of the world and our place in it.

So the next time the newest gadget or cell phone comes out that you must have, consider investing in an experience instead. It will better your life, make you happier, and connect you to the world.

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We’d love to hear you thoughts on the importance of experience and how it enriches your life. Leave a comment below and join in the discussion!

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