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Investing in Experiences: Tips For Finding Happiness
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, March 2010

It is possible to alter your own life, based on what we know about happiness. Connecting with friends, expressing gratitude, and being randomly kind are several ways we can engender happiness. One other way is to invest in experiences.

Experiences bring more joy than material goods because they are more open to positive reinterpretations and are a more meaningful part of your identity. Experiences also contribute more to successful social relationships, because you tend to do things with other people.

Here are some tips for for expanding your horizons:

Challenge Yourself - Our culture highly values accomplishing goals and challenging oneself. Reach outside of your comfort zone and set the bar high enough to reach and succeed.

Develop a Hobby - A good hobby makes you lose all sense of time and self, liberating you from the everyday.

Join a Club or a Group - Meet others so you can share experiences.

Share Stories - Talk about experiences you had, even if they were difficult challenges. Sharing the story can help you focus on the fact that you got through it.

Make a Mental Trip - Look at photographs of places you love and revisit them in your mind. You can "feel" how you felt when you were physically there.

The bottom line: experiences can make us happier both in the moment and in the long run because we get benefits like social bonding and vitality that aren't often met by a material object.

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