The Consumption Rat Race
Consumption of material items as a source of happiness highlights a problem. We all remember the smell of the new car we purchased. How long did it last? At most maybe a month before our body and mind adapted to our new situation. However, do you remember the trip you took with the family 5 years ago when your son or daughter learned to ski? Consumption for the wrong reasons is a happiness trap.
Leaf Van Boven and Tom Gilovich performed a consumption experiment. Two groups of subjects were asked to complete a questionnaire about a recent purchase. The first group was asked about a material possession and the second group was asked to pick an experience or activity. After conducting several variations of the experiment, Boven and Gilovich concluded that experiences provide more happiness because we share them with other people. Experiences unite us and objects separate us.
I discuss in the book the challenges facing wealthy people. Many assume money can buy happiness. It cannot. There is a difference between spending and spending well.