Science and Tech


Experiences Make Us Happy, Even Just Waiting For Them

New research finds we get more excited to buy experiences than we do to buy material things.
Posted at 1:11 PM, Aug 27, 2014

Wait for it ... wait for it ... no, seriously, wait for it.

A new study focused on waiting and found out what really makes us happy. Here's how: It found people waiting to purchase experiences, like a trip or concert tickets, were more excited than those waiting to buy a material item, like a TV.

It's one of the more fun studies we've heard of — it's even called "Waiting for Merlot."

Get it? Like Godot? ... We thought it was funny.

The study came to two conclusions: first, that people get happy just anticipating what they're going to get; and second, people who were waiting to buy experiences got happier thinking about them than people waiting to buy material things. The big takeaway:

"Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having)."

To figure all this out, researchers asked college students about purchases they planned to make, and also worked through

They also looked at newspaper articles about people waiting in line for things to see how those people were behaving.

This is, dare we say, in line with what other research has shown us about happiness. 

Some studies have shown that some of the poorest countries in the world have the happiest people. 

And there's a cap on the happiness money can bring. 

A 2010 poll of Americans showed the happiness level plateaus at a $75,000-a-year salary. Make more than that, and you have more stuff, but no more day-to-day happiness.

And if you want a little tip on putting a smile on your face: Lots of research has shown that giving makes people happy.

So wait in line, buy those concert tickets and give one to a friend? Enjoy the joy.