My parents-in-law celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year by taking their sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren on a cruise in the Baltic Sea. They used their money to buy happiness. Research shows that spending money on experiences with other people is the best way to use money to increase your happiness.
Spending money on material things gives you a very short-lived happiness boost. Experiences, on the other hand, contribute three-fold to your happiness. The anticipation associated with planning and looking forward to the trip makes you happy. You enjoy the experience itself, and then you have fond memories for years to come each time you reflect on it.
Generosity makes us happy. I know my parents-in-law loved watching everyone in their family enjoy their extremely generous gift. Nurturing relationships increases both our joy and our sense of meaning in life. The vacation allowed us to spend a lot of time together, which is rare given that some of us live in the United States, others in Colombia, and the rest in Spain. We had great fun and learned a lot while visiting different countries. There are many stories that we will relive together at future family gatherings.
You don’t have to go on a cruise to buy happiness. Any experience, a weekend away, a dinner, a concert, a ballgame, that brings you together with friends or loved ones and gives you something to look forward to and to remember will do the trick. Make sure to involve everyone in the planning, so they can benefit from the happiness boost of anticipating the event, as well.
What about you? How will you use your money to buy happiness?