Thursday, August 12, 2010

"But Will It Make You Happy?"

This is a great article in the New York Times about how people are getting rid of their stuff, rather than buying more, to achieve happiness. It echoes the sentiment that instead of you owning stuff, it instead end up owning you.

Scholars have discovered that one way consumers combat hedonic adaptation is to buy many small pleasures instead of one big one. Instead of a new Jaguar, Professor Lyubomirsky advises, buy a massage once a week, have lots of fresh flowers delivered and make phone calls to friends in Europe. Instead of a two-week long vacation, take a few three-day weekends.
“We do adapt to the little things,” she says, “but because there’s so many, it will take longer.”

Before credit cards and cellphones enabled consumers to have almost anything they wanted at any time, the experience of shopping was richer, says Ms. Liebmann of WSL Strategic Retail. “You saved for it, you anticipated it,” she says.

In other words, waiting for something and working hard to get it made it feel more valuable and more stimulating.

In fact, scholars have found that anticipation increases happiness. Considering buying an iPad? You might want to think about it as long as possible before taking one home. Likewise about a Caribbean escape: you’ll get more pleasure if you book a flight in advance than if you book it at the last minute.

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