A recent Cornell University study has put to rest some questions about whether money can buy happiness. The conclusion: money can buy you happiness. But you’ll get more pleasure for your dollar if you spend your money on experiences — not consumer goods.
Experiences can enhance happiness on several levels. People were found to feel better at every stage in the process, from waiting in line for tickets, to anticipating the event, to looking back on the experience later.
Having new experiences (whether they cost money or not) can lead us from boredom, spark our curiosity and give us confidence to take on new challenges — all of which can increase self-esteem, happiness, and our level of life satisfaction.
So whether you have extra cash to invest in the venture or not, embrace the unknown and try out our tips for broadening your horizons and drawing more novelty and happiness to your life.
Attack the Same Question Till You Get New Answers
Most people eat the same type of food, take the same route to work, and watch the same shows week after week. This also means that many people approach problems the same way every time they pop up, whether that method is working or not.
If you’re struggling with a road block in your life, use this as your first excuse to insert a little novelty into your life. Ask yourself the same question over and over until you break out of your typical response and start coming up with creative solutions. When you push yourself and explore answers that seem outlandish, you may help yourself over a hurdle and discover a new, creative way to solve your problem.
Try Something You’ve Enjoyed Watching on TV
Your favorite television shows offer an insightful window into the experiences you may enjoy in real life. The work-leisure paradox, so dubbed by Chicago professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, addresses the tendency to yearn for leisure when you’re at work but get bored with that leisure once you’re home. People feel more satisfied with the way they spend time when they do something productive. So if you’re feeling a nagging sense of dissatisfaction even while you’re watching your favorite cooking show, it’s likely because you’re observing, but not doing.
Consider your favorite television shows or books and identify the things you love most. Could you be experiencing these personally rather than experiencing them second hand? Stop watching that home renovation show and get building yourself either on your home or through a volunteer project like Habitat for Humanity. Instead of watching animal rescues, volunteer at your local shelter. If you watch dance competitions on TV, find a dance class in your area. Get creative and find a novel way to do what you would typically just observe.
Change Your Bedtime
Something as simple as getting up early or staying up late could introduce you to a new world of novel experiences. If you’re usually a night owl, try getting up early and experiencing a sunrise yoga class. If the wee hours of the night are foreign to you, head out after dark and see what your city looks like when nightclubs and bars are in full swing.
This will allow you to see things in a new light (literally). Little changes, like experiencing a familiar place at a different time of day, can help you explore in small but sometimes profound ways. So don’t think you need to make huge steps to start exploring and work with the little shifts you can create around you.
Find Freebies in Your Area
If you’re not sure what direction to head for new experiences, begin exploring what’s free in your area. Many museums have a special night once a month when admission is free. Street festivals and car shows are often free to attend. Check out the calendar at your local library for classes or lectures you can attend. Sample a wide variety of experiences, including some things you wouldn’t have usually considered.
When you’re not making a financial investment, there’s no need to feel a sense of loss if you experience a novelty that just isn’t your thing. Your world will be that much broader just for trying.
Change Your Route
Introducing novelty into your life can be as simple as literally choosing a different road. This is particularly beneficial at the end of the workday or when you’re out running errands because you’ll have time to stop and explore if something catches your eye.
Shake off your usual habits and challenge yourself to seek out new experiences. If you spot a farmer’s market you’re curious about, pull in and take a stroll. If a boutique catches your eye, go in and explore. Strike up conversations with people you find intriguing. Strive to experience everything this new route can offer you.
Bringing a bit of novelty to your life doesn’t have to mean a major investment in an overseas vacation (though there’s no reason to rule it out!). Find new experiences anywhere you can and you may be surprised where they take you.
Want to start having some new experiences? Come take a tour of Loving Life Therapy and see how you can explore our meditation and yoga classes.