Life Money
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If science says something is fine, then it must be OK, right?

But let’s test you out first. Of the following pairs of things, which would you rather purchase?

This?

Audi

Or this?

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These?

Getty Images

Or this?

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This?

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Or this?

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If you answered all the luxury items (car, shoes, yacht), then sorry, we can’t help you here. But if you chose all the beautiful destinations, then guess what? Turns out you’re living life just right. (Well, according to science, anyway. We support your choices no matter what they are. Oh, and can we borrow that car someday?)

A recent study out of Cornell University emphasizes the importance of spending money on experiences rather than things. The two-decade study, led by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, shows that one of the key underlying differences between our value of experiences and objects is adaptation. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while,” says Gilovich. “New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

In other words, picture this scenario and try to deny it: Those ridiculously expensive shoes you bought are now collecting dust in your closet. You haven’t seen them in months and you’ve worn them once. But remember that trip to Europe you took with your friends 10 years ago? Recall vivid memories from your time there? Yep, science has proven that things and places we experience stick with us for almost our entire lifetimes, and help contribute to our overall life satisfaction.

“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you,” says Gilovich. “In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags!