Time + Experiences + People = Smiles

Last week my face glimmered with an ear-to-ear grin.  In retrospect, I used my time well.  I went to a Tough Mudder– the intensely fun event which has given millions of people a challenging thrill and “a story to tell.”  I had drinks and dinner with old friends.  I experienced Queen of the Night at the Diamond Horseshoe, which the New York Times calls a spectacular experience of “Subterranean acts of sudden intimacy”.  And to top it off I spent the holiday weekend with family I don’t get to see frequently.  Why did I smile so much?  I had rich experiences, I made good use of my time, and I felt togetherness with friends and family.

You likely already know that psychologists have proven that there’s no real relationship between more money and increased happiness.  However, personal happiness is directly connected to how people choose to spend their time.  Spending time wisely is proven to make people happier whereas spending money does not.

How can we spend time wisely to create happiness?  57% of Americans say that paying for experiences makes them happier than buying things.   And satisfaction with experiential purchases increases over time, whereas satisfaction with “stuff” decreases over time.  Invest in what you love to do, not things you want to have.

What can you combine with good, experiential use of your time to make you even happier?  Social connection and time with friends or loved ones can bring you even more satisfaction.  Things that bring us together satisfy us most deeply.  Spending Money on others and giving to other makes us happy.  Psychological studies have proven this time after time, even among young children.  In one study, two-year olds were happier giving away goldfish crackers from their own stash, rather than receiving the crackers or giving away crackers from someone else’s pile.

Why did I smile so much last week?  What’s the magic equation?  [Time used wisely] + [Interesting experiences] + [People whom we love] = Big smiles.  It’s that simple.  Try it and let me know if you get the same resulting grin.



Van Boven & Gilovich, 20303, ‘To do or to Have, that is the question’
Dunn et al., 2008, ‘Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness’
Kahneman et al., 2006, ‘Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer?  A Focusing Illusion’
Mogilner, 2010, ‘The Pursuit of Happiness.  Time, Money, and Social Connection’
Aknin et al., 2012, ‘Giving Leads to happiness in Young Children’ nike air max thea damen nike air max thea damen

3 thoughts on “Time + Experiences + People = Smiles

  1. Alexander Brodsky says:

    Great insight. Intuitively, It has always made sense to me that money does not make me happy, but I’ve never taken that one step further to the point of thinking through what does make me happy. The idea of thinking more deeply about how I spend my time and how to engage in great experiences with others makes plan sense. I don’t even need the statistics of psychological studies!

  2. Alexander Patterson says:

    Great article, Pete! Where’d you hear about the study of the 2 year old children, that is fascinating.

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