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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hansen

Take Your Brother Skydiving (Or At Least Out to Lunch)

Sure, having lots of money to burn and buying lots of cool new stuff – cars, clothes, the latest tech gadgets – might be fun and make you feel giddy for a little while. But research proves that the thrill of buying and owning things soon wears off.

Experiences shared with friends or loved ones are what make people happier than possessions, according to Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. And experiences continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event occurred. Think of the time you caught your first lightning bug in a jar, or when you first met the love of your life, or that road trip to the Grand Canyon with your best friends from college. Priceless.

"Most of our life experiences involve other individuals," Howell said. People were fulfilling their need for social bonding while having these experiences, he added.

Howell’s findings were the result of a study involving 154 students at San Francisco State, who answered questions about a recent purchase -- either material or experiential -- they personally made in the last three months with the intention of making themselves happy.

Another reason for increased happiness in experiences, the researchers found, was that people felt a greater sense of vitality or "being alive" during the experience and in reflection, Howell said. "As nice as your new computer is, it's not going to make you feel alive."

Video by Enrique Hoyos

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