Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Study Claims Material Objects Will Not Make You Happy


(Photo : Getty Images/Scott Barbour) A new study claims experiences make people happy, not material things.

Happiness will always be a choice. But for some, material things are the source of happiness and their satisfaction. For them, material things are the treasures that bring them happiness. However, does this kind of happiness last longer? Or, will it just give them temporary satisfaction?

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A recent study from San Francisco State University states that greater happiness comes from seeking experiences, rather than material objects. Although this may seem like common sense to many readers, reality paints another picture — one in which people most often spend their money on material items because they mistakenly believe that material things have greater value than their experiences.

Cornell University psychology professor Dr. Thomas Gilovich said, "We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed, but only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them." For him, adaptation is the greatest enemy of happiness, TreeHugger has learned.

People buy things to make them feel good, but that feeling doesn't last longer. When people get used to things they have, they tend to lose their interest in them in the long run.

"Prior to purchase, respondents said that they believed a life experience would make them happier but a material item would be a better use of their money," according to SF State Associate Professors of Psychology's Ryan Howell.

"After the purchase, however, respondents reported that life experiences not only made them happier but were also the better value," Howell added.

In a recent survey of Harvard's class of 1980 — with data likely biased to those people who feel good enough about their lives to respond to the survey —researchers compared responses between those "Extremely Happy" and the rest of the respondents, according to Huffington Post

The study was divided into two: a Grant Study and a 2010 survey of the same class.

The Grant study led by George Vaillant had two main findings:

1. Happiness is love

2. If alcoholism is not the root of all evil, it is closely related to it.

On the other hand, the 2010 survey suggests "Happiness is Good." The survey also found that happiness actually comes in three goods, and everyone is highly motivated to be happy by doing the following:

1. Doing good for other people;

2. Doing things that they are good at;

3. And, doing good for one's self.

Meanwhile, this year's survey suggests that one can be happy if one:

1. Chooses to be happy with whatever he or she does;

2. Strengthens his or her bond with closest relationships;

3. Takes good care of himself or herself.

Interestingly, Forbes has learned about a sweeping study made by two professors of Michigan University, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, that claims rich people were more satisfied with their lives.

Another widely covered study made in 2010 by Nobel prize winning economist Daniel Kahneman together with Angus Deaton, seems to conflict with Stevenson and Wolfers' findings because it has found that happiness leveled off at incomes of $75,000 or $82,000 in today's economy.

"I've assumed that people prioritized making more money and that higher compensation meant more money and that higher compensation meant more to them than other aspects of their job," Susan Adams of Forbes noted of the study's finding.

Adams then quipped, "Flexibility and work life balance are important for almost everyone."

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