Year-round, people are trying to be happy. Because this basically what life is all about, keeping yourself distracted with feelings of happiness, love, and other positive sentiments. And now that Christmas is here, a question regarding happiness was answered by a group of researchers from the University of British Columbia, and that is ‘Are material gifts or experiences better?’.
- Actual material gifts give you momentary happiness in the form of bursts
- You get the bursts every time you use the given objects
- Experiences give you ‘afterglow’ happiness, making you happy about your life
- Nostalgia is heavily associated with afterglow happiness
Aaron C. Weidman and Elizabeth W. Dunn led a group of researchers from the University of British Columbia in order to find out what type of gift offers more happiness to the receiver.
Even though logic would dictate that experiences would make for better gifts because they improve your life, the researchers had an idea that matters weren’t so simple.
They used a sample of undergrad students, which they then proceeded to ask to tell them about all the gifts received since Christmas 2014 until mid February 2015.
They had to answer questions about the gifts, describe them, and then answer a progressive series of questions, like how much the gift is contributing to the happiness in their lives at the moment of the question, as well as if they were currently using the gift.
After two months, they had to tell the researchers how happy the gift made them and how much it contributed to the overall happiness in their lives.
The findings were quite interesting.
It was revealed that even though overall material gifts offered more happiness, experiences offered a deeper, more satisfying happiness.
There are apparently two types of happiness to be gained from receiving a gift.
If the gift is a material thing, the receiver will experience, bursts of happiness every time they use the object. This is happiness related to things in your life, momentary happiness, and it is experienced quite often.
On the other hand, the happiness gained from experiences is felt less frequently, however it is much more satisfying, as it refers to the happiness you feel about your life.
This afterglow happiness is felt much more intensely. It is also affiliated with deep feelings of nostalgia, as a pleasant experience at some point tends to radiate throughout your life.
Image source: Wikimedia