In a recent study, behavioral psychologist studied the impact of certain purchases on people’s serotonin levels. This is a great study because people can always lie.
Somebody bought a car that cost him two hundred thousand dollars, he can tell you, “Hey, I’m happy I bought this car.”
It is hard to fake serotonin levels. That person who bought the two hundred thousand dollar car may be making a big deal that he is happy but deep down inside he’s worried about his car being stolen or getting all the money together.
Who knows what’s going on in his mind but serotonin levels in blood test do not lie and yes, the Science is in. Buying stuff does make you happy but the problem is it doesn’t last. You get caught in this endless spiral of wanting to buy more stuff to get that initial rush. Unfortunately, you can’t just buy the exact same item.
That is not going to work. Interestingly enough, according to the study, when you buy experiences, the happiness lasts much longer. At the very least, the experience of newness, adventure, and curiosity lasts for weeks if not months. Some can even last years. In certain cases, it lasts forever.
Does that trip to the great wall of China really impact people’s lives that fundamentally? Is going to Paris for two weeks or seeing the Colosseum in Rome that life-changing? Well, travel is able to deliver a sense of happiness and contentment not because you spent a lot of money. It is the experience.
You get from Point A to Point B and you become a different person. You break out from your shell, you put yourself in a position to explore things with a fresh set of eyes. When you’re traveling your expectations change. You are more likely to set aside your old tired assumptions and position yourself to absorb what life has to give on an immediate and raw basis. You allow this new experiences to impact the many aspects of what makes you who you are.
There are certain psychological inputs that you’re aware of, there are emotional stimuli during the trip. You eat different foods and you see different things. Your whole consciousness and being that make up who you are, are engaged.
That’s what happens in travel. So that happiness study that seems to suggest that when you buy experiences in the form of travel, you can be actually be happier for a longer period of time arrives at the wrong conclusion. It’s not the money, it is the experience.
Understand the truth behind this. Even if you have only a dollar to your name, you can buy experience. You can allow yourself to use that money as a gateway to open up to what the world has to offer. In fact, if you train yourself well enough, you don’t even need that money. That’s just a catalyst.