Experiences, Not Material Objects Key To Happiness

Experiences, Not Material Objects Key To Happiness

Designer Liz Danzico on what amplifies happiness and how we can create opportunities to have more of it.

Naresh Kumar
  • 11 january 2011

In her interesting online publication Bobulate, designer and educator Liz Danzico talks about the happiness experience. She says that investing in experiences rather than objects increases happiness and takes support from various research that shows how spending money on leisure and services leads to more happiness as they reinforce social bonds. She further adds that it is possible to create opportunities for such experiences and uses the “peak-end” rule by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman to explain her thoughts.

Founder of behavioral economics and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s research reports on the “peak-end” rule, which shows what we remember about the pleasurable quality of an experience is determined almost entirely by two things: 1. how we feel when experiences are at their peak, and 2. how we feel when experiences have ended. We rely on these two-part summaries to remind us of how we felt about experiences. The summary is the one we remember. We’re taking happiness shortcuts.

As designers it’s important to note that what matters far more is the intensity at the peak combined with how people feel at the end, rather than the overall average of the experience. In a talk, Daniel Kahneman reveals the difference between our “experiencing self” and our “remembering self.” Getting confused between them is part of what’s confounding about how we invest in happiness because our “remembering self is a storyteller and that starts with the basic response of our memory. We don’t [actually] set out to tell stories when we set out to tell stories. Our memory tells us stories. That is, what we get to keep from our experiences is a story”. Whatever our craft, whether it be book cover design or toothbrushes or websites, we might benefit from considering the narrative that emerges from the experience.

Bobulate: “What we talk about when we talk about happiness”

[via Swissmiss]

Image by SperryPhotography


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