As you get older, it's inevitable to look back on your life and regret certain things you didn't do. The most common regrets include not keeping in touch with friends, not traveling enough, not allowing yourself to be happier, working too hard and making life more complicated than it has to be. No one regrets not buying more material possessions, but they do regret not experiencing their life to the fullest.
This is a problem you can proactively prevent. So get out there, declutter yourself from material possessions and live a life full of wonderful experiences.
If you didn't know that happiness can be measured quantitatively and theoretically, it can. Happiness economics is the study of happiness and its affects. It offers insight into people's overall well-being and their likes and dislikes in regard to current issues, including their income, job status, potential risk of unemployment, health and economic inflation.
The World Happiness Report compares happiness between countries and different cultures and factors in GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity and perception of competition. The 2016 report found that Denmark is the happiest country in the world, with Switzerland trailing right behind.
Experiences vs. Possessions
So why are the people of Denmark and Switzerland so happy? In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology titled "If Money Doesn't Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren't Spending It Right," scientists Dunn, Gilbert and Wilson have eight recommendations for those who wish to be happier.
One of the most important suggestions is to spend money on experiences, not material goods. Experiences have a stronger connection to the human body since they're deeply rooted to identity, social behavior and relationships. Spending money on a vacation provides memories that get sweeter with time, bonding individuals to each other or to certain places and leaving long-lasting effects on an individual's mental and physical well-being.
Even the anticipation of an experience has a positive effect on an individual's well-being and happiness. A study titled "Waiting for Merlot" in the journal Psychological Science explores the hedonistic differences between experiential purchases and material purchases before consumption. They found that waiting for an experience is more positive than waiting for possessions and that people who are anticipating an experience are able to derive more happiness from the process.
Benefits of Eliminating Clutter
Investing in experiences is crucial, but eliminating clutter and organizing your life are just as important to your happiness. Having too many belongings can bring on stress and anxiety, placing an emotional toll on your mind. Clutter slows you down and makes you mentally and physically fatigued. This accumulation of stress has long-term effects on the body, including heart disease, obesity, autoimmune diseases and cancer.