According to Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, a new study shows we should “Follow these principles: 1) Buy more experiences and fewer objects. 2) Don’t worry about insurance. 3) The frequency of happy events matters more than their intensity.”
“What’s the most controversial suggestion in the paper?
If one thing surprises most folks, it might be the suggestion to buy many small things rather than fewer big things. If you asked people if they’d prefer an ice cream cone every Monday for the next few weeks or a great meal at a French restaurant, most would probably take the great meal gift certificate. But it turns out that the frequency of positive events is a better predictor of happiness than intensity of those positive events.
Let’s say that you had five good experiences and each had an intensity of 10 out of 10. And I had 10 good experiences each with an intensity of 5. Simple math suggests we should be equally happy. But the odds are that I will be happier than you because happiness is affected less by how good your good experience was and more by how many good experiences you had.
Obviously, intensity matters. It is better to win the Nobel Prize than eat ice cream. But intensity doesn’t seem to matter as much as frequency.”