What are the material things in life

Money doesn't make you happy - experiences do!

Many people strive for big money in their (professional) life. You dream of a detached house, a fast car or a luxurious vacation. However, the latest studies now show that those who invest their money in experiences instead of material things are much happier. So why wealth, the house or the car are ultimately not that important and why you should perhaps think about reducing your working hours, we would like to reveal to you today.

Happiness does not come from without, but from within

Would you consider yourself happy? And if not, what is still missing to your complete satisfaction? Many people will now list primarily material goods. You dream of a new car, a villa on the beach, your own yacht or even a private jet. Day after day we see the apparently “perfect” life of celebrities on television and the Internet and on Facebook, Instagram & Co even the everyday life of our friends, acquaintances and neighbors looks somehow nicer than ours.

Reading tip: "Generation Maybe: When" Maybe "never becomes"

We live in a "casting society". Especially the younger generations, the so-called “digital natives” - that is, those children, adolescents and young adults who grew up with the new media, the Internet and social media - have learned from an early age to always look to the right and left and to look to each other to dedicate a constant battle to who is richer, more beautiful or simply more perfect, in eternal comparison with the “peer group”. The only problem is: this attitude to life does not make you happy. On the contrary: It brings out more and more narcissists and people who live in chronic dissatisfaction with themselves and their lives. Satisfaction has become a rare commodity. Despressions, anxiety disorders and the like are increasing at a rapid pace.

Reading tip: "Cabinet of horrors in the office: is your boss a psychopath?"

And it is precisely these narcissists and psychopaths who chase big money, have a steep career and, despite all the success, only become more and more unhappy in the course of life. Their hunger for wealth is insatiable. The "hole" - which is actually a longing for (self) love, confirmation and human warmth - becomes bigger and more painful and at some point most of those affected sooner or later realize: Money alone does not make you happy. But what then?


You can find more statistics at Statista

It is precisely these infinite possibilities that the modern world provides us with tempting us to always want "more" - instead of simply being satisfied with what we already have. Even people without a solid personality disorder such as narcissism or psychopathy often feel overwhelmed in the complex (business) world. There is a lack of concrete goals and a realistic idea of ​​what it really is that makes "happy". Generation Y is therefore also referred to as “Generation Maybe” or “Generation unable to relate”.

Reading tip: "Mood of upheaval: How Generation Y is changing the world of work"

At the same time, however, it has one important insight ahead of its predecessor generations: It is increasingly thinking back to traditional values. Family, leisure and personal freedom are top priorities for digital natives. Slowly but surely, “today's youth” seem to understand that they cannot find happiness in life on the Internet, at work or through wealth. You cannot buy true happiness, it comes from within.

So what is it that makes a person “happy”?

It is precisely this attitude towards life of the young generation Y that is currently desperate employers. You describe the digital natives as stubborn, stubborn, selfish and difficult. From the perspective of young professionals, however, it is precisely these attributes that will lead them to more happiness in life than their parents and grandparents' generations. Generation Y no longer wants to live to work. Instead, she wants to work as little as possible in order to live as much as possible. Money and material values ​​no longer play a major role for them. Instead, she values ​​sufficient time with family and friends, time and place sovereignty and personal freedom, for example to go on trips.


You can find more statistics at Statista

When asked what it is that makes them really (!) Happy, most Germans ultimately answer: a hug, time with family or experiences with friends. Money? Automobile? House? Luxury yacht? In all studies on happiness in life, these aspects are surprisingly unimportant. According to the current state of research, however, true happiness is found in people who can “switch off” their heads and instead live completely in the moment. This allows him to break out of the spiral of thoughts between memories of the past - or even regrets - and worries about the future and enjoy the moment to the fullest.

Reading tip: "After work: 10 tips on how you can really switch off"

“Living in the moment” - that is easier said than done, especially for the inexperienced. The researchers Amit Kumar, Matthew A. Killingsworth and Thomas Gilovich developed a different solution in their study “Waiting for Merlot”. They found out that the anticipation of an experience has similarly positive aspects on the individually experienced happiness as the full "life in the moment" through meditation, yoga & Co. It distracts from worries about the future and creates new intrinsic motivation. And it is precisely this anticipation that is significantly greater with experiences than with material things. So you will feel more happiness in advance if you are planning a vacation with your loved ones instead of buying a new car. Waiting for material goods, on the other hand, even creates feelings of impatience, which can make those affected more unhappy in the short term.

Experiences make you happier beforehand - and afterwards!

Anyone who prefers to spend their money on immaterial things rather than material things is much happier long before they are “received”. But it doesn't stop there: even after the experience, for example a family hike on the weekend, the feeling of happiness lasts much longer than when purchasing material goods. The researchers were able to identify several reasons for this:

  • Intangible investments like experiences seduce us Less to do this with the "peer group" to compare.
  • “Adventures” stay in the memory longer and evoke new feelings of happiness with every memory of it. The thought that the meanwhile old Porsche was new in front of the door, on the other hand, makes you dissatisfied and arouses the desire to buy a new car quickly (the well-known “consumption spiral”).
  • These feelings of happiness are especially great when you have the Experiences shared with family or friends and can now indulge in memories together, look at photos or laugh heartily at the funny anecdotes.

Hand on heart: What do you think you will remember on your deathbed? Holidays, partying nights and Sunday afternoons with your children in the garden? Or your own home, your car and the numerous lonely business trips in luxurious hotel rooms?

Experiences are a way out of today's dilemma

Our "casting society" currently has a major dilemma: She cannot decide whether her own happiness is more important or the comparison with the “peer group”. We would like to explain this to you using the simplest possible example:

In surveys, the majority of people could not decide whether they would rather have a high salary, which is still lower than that of the social environment, or whether they would prefer a lower salary instead, if it is higher than that of the “peer” Group ".

Sounds stupid? But that's how it is! Interestingly, there is no such dilemma with experiences:

When it comes to experiences, on the other hand, all respondents prefer four weeks vacation, even if their “peer group” receives eight weeks, than two weeks if the social environment only had one week.

The conclusion, why experiences make you so much happier than material things, is according to researchers: Experiences are less associated with social status, self-confidence or one's own identity. They allow us to reflect back on ourselves without the influence of external factors. In this way they interrupt the eternal cycle of comparing our "casting society" and teach you that again simple key to happiness: satisfaction - regardless of "the others".

Conclusion: It is better to invest time and money in experiences than in material things

So we have now explained to you that and why you should invest your money and time in experiences rather than in material things. Only in this way will you be really happy in the long run, break out of the disease-causing dilemma of our “casting society” and instead stay healthy and satisfied in the long term. So take an example from the so often criticized Generation Y and think about reducing your working hours - and thus your salary - to the bare minimum and instead really "live" again.

Reading tip: "Downshifting: Life is in, career is out!"

Most of the experiences are not expensive at all, sometimes even completely free of charge. So say goodbye to outdated thought patterns like “time is money” and instead ask yourself: What money - or material good - in the world would it be worth missing out on an afternoon with family, a vacation with friends or a bungee jump?

Do you agree with us or do you roll up your toenails at these words? What is more important to you personally - money or time? And which experiences would you not have wanted to miss for anything in the world because you will remember them forever with a smile? Were these expensive or maybe even free? We look forward to your exciting discussion in the comments!

Photo credit: Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash

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