Material things are thought to bring people happiness, though only momentarily. Shopping is one of peoples' most hard-to-break habits, being as it gives a sense of euphoria, albeit a false one. As we all know, shortly after your purchase, the excitement, gratification, and delight you originally felt begins to dwindle. This plays an enormous role in shopping addiction. As we are all familiar, once the new wears off, you once again have the overwhelming urge to go shopping.
Essentially, what happens is, our brains become trained to relate happiness with purchases, just like a drug addict will relate getting high to being happy. Although, in most cases, the person knows that they are not truly making themselves happy by their actions and sometimes this can be followed by feelings of depression, which more often than not, the shopping or drugs is used again to combat the depression. This vicious cycle, if not interrupted, can repeat itself over and over again.
According to a research conducted at Cornell University, this cycle of behavior can be broken. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at the university, has discovered that making purchases or shopping gives people the same euphoria as traveling. The best part of this scenario is the fact that while your purchase high will diminish over time, the memories in which you would associate with your travels will make you just as-if not more-happy as shopping and are here for as long as you remember them.
Gilovich explains that adaptation is "one of the enemies of happiness." You buy things to make you happy, and you succeed for only a short while. Soon, you adapt to the things that used to bring you happiness.
"Although making new purchases may give you novelty, it still lacks the key ingredient for maintaining happiness." Dr. Gilovich says, "your experience is a bigger part of yourself than your material goods. You may actually like your purchases and you may even go to the extent of thinking that a part of you is connected to that stuff; however, they are separate from your identity."
He continues, "On the other hand, your travel experiences are part of who you are. Your richest and most cherished memories aren't from the material goods you've bought. Rather, they're a total sum of the life experiences you've had. Traveling brings you to new cultures and places. In such an environment, everything around you feels more enriching. Your brain and body alike lose track of time as you're so keen on absorbing new information. That disconnection from the normal surroundings that you're already adapted to offers an excellent environment for creating happy and lasting memories that are hard to forget or replace."
Robert Waldinger, head of a 80-year old research at Harvard University is well versed when it comes to happiness. The results from one study revealed that individuals who are most connected to their family, friends, community, and other people were the healthiest and happiest.
With that being said, Waldinger says that people should deepen their relationships by doing new things with the people in their life. He goes on to explain, "that experiences connect you to others in a way that material things can't." To Waldinger, some of the most important experiences in his life are his travels.