According to new studies published in the journal Psychological Science, the secret to happiness is waiting for the thing or item you desire.
Several recent studies have concluded that experiences make us more happy than material goods. The new research in Psychological Science takes that conclusion a step further by suggesting that people derive more pleasure by waiting for experiences.
Two of the major benefits of seeking happiness through experiences rather than goods is that we are less likely to compare ourselves to others, and more opportunities for social interactions present themselves. The research also says that waiting on an experience allows us to receive joy before the purchase is even made. For example, the expectation of taking a trip with friends would be better than buying the latest electronic gadget, or getting new clothes.
One study asked college students to consider a potential future purchase, either a material good or experiential, and explain how they felt while waiting. Participants felt more excitement about buying an experience, and lacked patience when waiting to buy an item.
The next study surveyed more than 2,000 people by asking individuals to register with a website on their phone, and update their level of happiness throughout the day. Among those who daydreamed about making a purchase, people who were looking forward to purchasing an experience were happier than those who sought to buy an item.
The last two studies sourced newspaper articles to compare people waiting in long lines for experiences such as buying tickets for concerts, and people waiting to buy items like newly released electronics. Results showed that customers in lines for experiences were more well-behaved than patrons seeking to purchase goods, and rated their waiting experiences more positively.
While the studies all agree that waiting for experiences is more pleasurable than the instant satisfaction received through items, no final conclusion was able to determine why this is true. Memories tend to outlast the finite expiration date of goods. In many cases, the pleasure one gets from having an item is based on intangible qualities such as its coolness factor, which is an experience in and of itself. So the relationship between experiences and goods is not mutually exclusive, but maybe that will be covered in the next series of studies.