What makes people happy…and why?

There has been a lot of work carried out and theories created that revolve around the economics of ‘happiness’. The Easterlin Paradox – a key concept in this – concludes that higher incomes relate to happiness, however long term increased income does not correlate to increased happiness.

So what does makes people happy?

It appears that the answer is ‘experiences’!

From a survey we conducted 74% of people surveyed had received a gift experience and from that group, 98% said this made them happy. This ties in with the theory by psychologists Gilovich,Kumar and Jampol, who published a review in 2014 that demonstrated “experiential purchases (such as holidays, concerts and meals out) tend to bring more lasting happiness than material purchases” contributing to why people like to receive experiences as gifts. Their research determined that people feel greater satisfaction and happiness from experiences because:

  1. Experiential purchases enhance social relations more readily and effectively than material goods
  2. Experiential purchases form a bigger part of a person’s identity
  3. Experiential purchases are evaluated more on their own terms and evoke fewer social comparisons”

It has also become apparent that after the latest recession people are being more careful with their money and what they choose to spend it on. Each generation wants to fill their lives with experiences rather than possessions – making them feel happier and more fulfilled. There is also an impression that during this time people were reminded of what mattered the most to them – family and friends. So spending money on experiences where you can be together and have a shared experience is key to so many people.

This is why we I believe experiences make exceptionally good gifts! If you give a gift experience voucher as a gift, the receiver will be thrilled with it at the time, but it has also been proven that the anticipation before using it as well as the memories after the event bring long lasting happiness – so the gift keeps on giving!

Personally, my husband and I received an overnight stay gift experience voucher as a wedding present. It was somewhere I had never visited before so it was exciting to think we’d be able to try somewhere completely new. We organised a good time for us both to make full use of it and we enjoyed our stay so much. We were able to share with the people who bought us it what it was like and how much we enjoyed it, which was lovely, as they got to see how happy we were with our gift. Knowing how we felt, I’ve since bought vouchers for my friends’ birthdays and weddings and I love hearing their stories about their experiences – so far, they’ve all enjoyed it!