“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” - Charles Spurgeon
Buying nice things is part of the fabric of American culture -- the right car, home ownership, or clothes that express your personality (guilty as charged) -- seem to be a required part of the trajectory of happiness. Turns out this is a giant lie. Study after study shows people are happier spending money on experiences and not stuff.
Now, you might be asking yourself, how in the fuck does does a company that ostensibly is selling t-shirts get off on writing a blog post on this topic. It's pretty simple. We're not selling shirts. We're selling the experience of identifying with and communicating the ideas that are on the shirts and we do that within the context of a kick ass customer experience. And that's why our customers are happy.
The Atlantic, in the article, Buy Experiences, Not Things, elaborates on the psychology behind the intangible and fleeting nature of experience and why that counterintuitively contributes to longer term happiness.
“iPhones, clothes, couches, et cetera, just become background. They deteriorate or become obsolete. It's the fleetingness of experiential purchases that endears us to them. Either they're not around long enough to become imperfect, or they are imperfect, but our memories and stories of them get sweet with time. Even a bad experience becomes a good story.”
In this way, experiences become more a part of the fabric of your life and not some external narrative. Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University elaborates in this article at Fast Company Exist:
"Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods," says Gilovich. "You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences."
Turns out there’s one more factor making “stuff” less satisfying. Competition. People tend to compare and measure the worth of their material goods against other people’s material goods. Sure, the BMW or iPhone you got last year is cool, but it’s not as nice as the new one she just bought! Nobody gets in a pissing contest about their trip to Iceland. In fact, it’s more likely that an experience indirectly shared would bring shared joy versus a mindset of comparison. Because, of course, no two experiences are alike.
So what will you be doing with your savings? Down payment on a house, a nice new car, or the trip of a lifetime? Scientists say go on the trip. We say, buy an HU shirt to take along. You know, to enhance the experience. ;)