A study presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in February 2009 suggests that you can buy happiness. The secret is to buy experiences, not stuff. Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, recruited 154 participants between the ages of 19 and 50 and split them into two groups. The first group wrote about a recent experience, such as going to the theater or out for dinner; the second wrote about a purchase they had just made. The results indicated that regardless of the amount of money spent, doing things makes people happier than buying things. “We found out the reason they were happier was because their life experiences filled them with a sense of vigor, or energy, and a sense of being alive. And it also helped them connect with other people.”
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