Well, the best gift of all time is very, very simple. The best gift of all is happiness. Sorry, I know you were hoping for something you could order on Amazon Prime and have at the doorstep in 2 days. But, read on…
So how do we give happiness?? Happiness is gained through experiences. You’ve heard the age-old adage “can money buy you happiness?” And the answer is actually YES, but more so when the money is spent on the right stuff. And that stuff does not need to be wrapped up and tied with a bow. That stuff is experiences.
Beyond fulfilling basic needs and giving yourself a treat every now and then, buy yourself experiences and you will have happiness. A study published in the Wall Street Journal last month titled “Can Money Buy You Happiness” proves this point.
Experiences, on the other hand, tend to meet more of our underlying psychological needs, says Prof. Gilovich. They’re often shared with other people, giving us a greater sense of connection, and they form a bigger part of our sense of identity.
If you’ve ever traveled by Canoe in Northern Ontario, you know that the fulfillment of that experience lasts long beyond the time that the best new shoes or the best new gadget has finally gone to the landfill.
The natural tendency is to put our money toward material things because the anticipated happiness level is actually higher prior to the purchase of goods, but the post-purchase happiness, just 4 weeks later, is far higher with the purchase of an experience rather than a material item.
Here is another great fact from the article. Giving away your money actually makes people happier than spending it on themselves. This holds true even for people who don’t make a great deal of it. This holds true all across the world even where people are relatively poor.
What moves the needle in terms of happiness is not so much the dollar amount you give, Prof. Dunn says, but the perceived impact of your donation. If you can see your money making a difference in other people’s lives, it will make you happy even if the amount you gave was quite small.
So, if you are looking for the perfect gift for a loved one, look no further than a great experience!