Thomas Gilovich, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Cornell University and co-author a recent study on gratitude, told Real Simple that the study found people express more gratitude about events and experiences than they do about objects, and that this type of gratitude results in more generous behaviour towards others and yourself. Basically, you’ll feel more grateful for being able to go on holiday or attend a great party, than you will for being able to buy a cool lamp or new dress.
Gilovich’s study, which analysed 1200 online customer reviews, half for things people bought, and half for experiences people bought, and found that reviewers were more likely to express gratitude in posts about buying an experience than they were when buying a thing.
Further tests throughout the study found that people who made meaningful experiential purchases are more generous, and that people who spent money on experiences rather than material items were generally happier.
And how does this happen? People of science hypothesise that gratitude stimulates two important regions in our brains: the hypothalamus, which regulates stress, and the ventral tegmental area, which plays a significant role in the brain’s reward system that produces feelings of pleasure.
Basically, if you’re looking to express more gratitude, be more generous and feel better about yourself and your life, you should be buying experiences rather than material things, because you’ll feel all the more blessed for having been able to purchase and experience it.