Spending your money on activities, like vacations or sporting events, won’t make you happy if you’re only doing it to impress others, finds new research in the Journal of Happiness Studies.
Researchers surveyed more than 930 adults about what purchases they made, why they made them, and how they felt after spending their money. The results: People only felt happy when they spent money on experiences that lined up with their desires, personal interests, and values.
“When you buy things solely to impress other people, it’s never going to satisfy your own psychological needs,” says Ryan Howell, Ph.D., lead study author and assistant psychology professor at San Francisco State University. “If all you can think about is how many cool stories you’re going to have to tell people, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.”
Sounds easy, but it’s not. Example: It’s tempting to treat your friends to dinner at the best restaurant in town because you think they will enjoy it. Resist. Instead, throw a drink-up or something. That way, your own needs are satisfied. And—here’s the best part—your friends will enjoy themselves more because the act is genuine.