Spend your wealth on experiences

…and you will not only be happier, but if your experiences are linked to nature you will also be healthier.

The European Union Green Week was focused in 2015 on making the connection between nature and our health and wealth. However I found that there was a missing point to another important target of the European Union: sustainable development based on circular economy.

Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, has been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades. He states that “one of the enemies of happiness is adaptation”. There’s a very logical assumption that most people make when spending their money: that because a physical object will last longer, it will make us happier for a longer time than a one-off experience like a concert or vacation. According to recent research, it turns out that assumption is completely wrong. “New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.” says Gilovich.

As described in Psychology Today nature makes us happier as well. Zelenski and Nisbet conducted two studies with one question in mind: Is the link between nature and happiness independent from the other things that make us feel emotionally connected to life, like family, country, culture, music, and friends? The researchers ended up with a few important conclusions including:

  1. Our emotional connectedness to the natural world is distinct from other psychological connections in our lives.
  2. Nature relatedness often predicts happiness regardless of other psychological factors.
  3. Psychological connections with nature have the capacity to facilitate sustainable attitudes, and may be an important tool in preserving our environment.

They actually recommended that we should let our children and teenagers out in the natural world and engage them with its beauty and vibrant spirit. In the end, it is their and our relationships with nature that will determine our futures.

Bringing the findings of Gilovich, Zelenski and Nisbet together, I suggest that instead of investing in the constant purchase of materials goods, we should spend our wealth in guaranteeing that future generations will be able to experience wilderness…and we should go out and enjoy nature!!!

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