Materialism - Does It Make You Happy?

Materialism in this context is the concern for possessions or for material wealth and the physical comfort it brings. Can buying and possessing material items make us happier?

I have often heard quoted that shopping makes you happy and if you are feeling a little down then you should go out and buy something. I have also read that when people can afford more the necessities of life then they have a significantly happier life.

Recent studies have shown that buying 'things' can in fact make you happier. However, before you buy that Ferrari or Cartier item, there is a cautionary note. Buying experiences have a longer lasting benefit to your wellness than a material item. Why - because material items become old and lose their immediate appeal very quickly whereas experiences such as a holiday a long remembered. (As an aside, it has been found that memories of holidays distort over time so we only tend to only recall the happiest parts if the holiday was a bad one.)

Additionally, numerous studies have shown that buying something for someone else makes us much happier than spending money on ourselves. Again, this seems counter-intuitive. 

The common link is sociability - or as I like to refer to as socialisation. When we spend money on an experience it is more often than not that we are spending it with another person, we are sharing the experience. When we give to another we are again sharing the experience. 

It is then perhaps not so surprising that you don't actually have to give money to receive the benefits of giving. And, more importantly, you don't have to do it every day apparently. Doing something nice for someone else - helping a friend out, giving blood, or volunteering for a not-for-profit are all ways to gain greater long-lasting happiness than buying a material item for yourself.

I still enjoy my material items and I am not for a moment suggesting you shouldn’t shop to make yourself happy. By all means if it works, do it. Just know that buying an experience has greater benefit for your emotional situation.

Lastly, a simple act of kindness to another will make you happier for longer and is something that you will probably never forget.