This past week my wife and I traveled to New York City—together with good friends—to see the 2010 US Open tennis tournament. As an avid tennis fan, this trip is as close to nirvana as one could get. I play the sport twice a week, and follow the professional players who are on tour.
In addition to watching matches at Arthur Ashe stadium, the largest tennis arena in the world (see photo), we saw the Broadway musical revival “Promises, Promises.” During the middle of the performance, we were delighted when Ellen DeGeneres made a surprise, cameo appearance. For exercise, we walked throughout the Big Apple, taking in the street scenes of Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and the Upper East Side.
If there is such a thing as a good life, then this trip has to qualify as an important ingredient. Experiencing all that the Big Apple has to offer with friends builds memories that will last for years. In contrast, buying stuff and keeping up with the Jones provides a more ephemeral form of happiness.
An August 10, 2010 New York Times article–But Will It Make You Happy—buttresses this point of view. In terms of producing lasting happiness, psychologists’ research suggests that people “derive longer lasting satisfaction” when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects. Moreover, the greatest value for the dollar spent comes from making expenditures on experiences that enhance social relationships.
So, before you go out and buy that new couch, consider whether this will really be the best way to spend your money. You might enjoy the fresh smell of new leather for several months, but a vacation with friends can build memories that last a life-time.
What expenditures bring you the most happiness?