Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Types of Gifts Will Make You Happiest This Holiday Season?

When this boy is an adult, will he tell his friends a story about this fishing
trip, or will he describe in detail the PS4 he got for Christmas in 2013?
I talked with 9 News yesterday about the psychology behind gift giving. There is a strong body of research showing that people tend to be much happier when they spend their money on experiences rather than material goods. Here is the video:

Click here to watch the video if it does not appear above.

The example I used in the video was a buying a television versus paying for an experience like a cruise or going out for dinner. The television is going to give you a lot of joy and excitement in the beginning. You will get a rush of endorphins and dopamine, and it will feel very good. A few weeks later, when you are sitting on your couch staring at the television, it will feel just like you are watching your old television. Nice, convenient, relaxing, but not much different.

The experience, however, will last a lifetime. Even if it is only dinner out with friends or family, it will add to the richness of your life in a way material goods cannot. Years later, you will benefit from the cumulative effect of all of the experiences you have purchased. And the
television that was new in 2013 will be in a landfill.

As a person who works for a news organization that broadcasts on television, I feel it is important to add the following statement: It is still possible to watch and enjoy 9 News on your old television. If your old one breaks, please buy a new one. If you don't absolutely need a new television, try saving up for a fantastic experience instead. ;)

When you think about giving gifts this year, think about whether you can give your friends and family experiences rather than 'stuff.'

Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.


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