7 Things To Buy To Be Happier, According To Science

7 Things To Buy To Be Happier, According To Science

For years, conventional wisdom has stated that money can’t buy happiness. While money solves some problems, research shows that material possessions provide only short-term happiness before fading into the background. However, new research indicates that spending money in specific ways can positively impact your well-being.

Scientifically-backed purchases that align with your values can lead to more sustained joy. The key is not just buying stuff but being intentional about expenditures that enrich your life, foster connections, and fuel personal growth. With some effort and self-reflection, you can create a fulfilling, purposeful life.

This article will explore seven categories of purchases that science links to elevated happiness. Supporting research, real-world examples, and tips will show you how to invest meaningfully in your emotional health. Learn how to shift spending towards long-term life satisfaction.

1. Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things

Study after study demonstrates that spending money on experiences like travel, courses, or cultural events leads to more sustainable happiness than material purchases. People adapt quickly to new possessions like electronics, clothing, and accessories. In contrast, experiences help define one’s identity and become a part of who you are. Shared experiences also tighten social bonds.

Example: Take a Mediterranean cooking class rather than splurging on the latest iPhone model. Learning this new skill builds self-confidence while enjoying a fun social activity. The joy lasts longer than quick gadget gratification.

Tips: Choose experiential purchases that align with your core interests and values for maximum fulfillment. Outdoor enthusiasts might buy camping gear or hiking excursions, while artistic types could take painting classes.

2. Invest in Quality Time with Loved Ones

Humans crave social connections. MIT research shows that strong relationships contribute tremendously to happiness and well-being. Therefore, money spent strengthening bonds with friends and family is wisely invested. Purchases facilitating meaningful interactions and togetherness lead to laughs, joy, and comfort.

Example: Instead of going out for an expensive dinner, cook a potluck meal together. Shop for ingredients as a group, then come together to prepare dishes and play games over delicious food. The shared experience deepens connections.

Tips: Consider activities your loved ones enjoy when choosing purchases promoting quality time. Buy sporting equipment, board games for game nights, or baking tools to whip up sweet treats.

3. Buy Products That Support an Active Lifestyle

Exercise provides physical and mental boosts by releasing endorphins that naturally elevate mood. Buying equipment and gear that enables an active way of life leads to reduced anxiety, less depression, and higher energy levels. Staying active outdoors also increases vitamin D exposure from sunlight, lowering seasonal blues.

Example: Invest in a bike, running shoes, or home workout equipment based on your interests instead of more electronics or clothing. Ride along local trails or walk while listening to audiobooks for mood-enhancing movement.

Tips: Incorporate wearable fitness technology to help quantify progress. Tracking steps, heart rate, and workout patterns motivates continued effort to maximize happiness gains.

4. Improve Sleep Quality Where Possible

Quality sleep allows the brain and body to recharge, process information, regulate emotions, and consolidate memories. Poor sleep dramatically impacts focus, decision-making, immunity, and mental health. While electronics overstimulate minds, research proves bedroom upgrades like new mattresses, weighted blankets, and blackout curtains improve sleep.

Example: Upgrade bedding by purchasing high thread count sheets, breathable comforters, and ergonomic pillows to create a luxurious sleep sanctuary. Block external light with thick curtains to mimic natural melatonin rhythms.

Tips: Remove televisions and laptops from bedrooms for better rest. Keep rooms cool, and use essential oil diffusers with relaxing scents like lavender. Establish a consistent pre-bed routine.

5. Invest in Personal Growth and Self-Care

Personal development spending focuses inward, helping you become the best version of yourself. Devoting time and money towards internal growth, healing, and learning leads to a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Whether furthering education, enjoying spa treatments, or seeing a therapist, self-improvement boosts confidence.

Example: Sign up for that wine-tasting class you’ve eyed for years, schedule a shiatsu massage, or enroll in watercolor painting lessons instead of blowing money on disposable junk. Indulge the inner you.

Tips: Alternate splurges on physical pampering with intellectual/skill growth for balance. Follow passions neglected by life’s daily grind to round out your identity.

6. Incorporate More Plants and Greenery

Bringing nature indoors via houseplants bestows mental health gains, reducing stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Caring for plants also provides a meaningful routine while improving indoor air quality. Gardening synthesizes vitamin D from the sun, which is known to improve low moods. Surrounding yourself with living greenery enhances happiness substantially.

Example: Buy a miniature indoor citrus tree, aloe vera plant, or a terrarium garden to add revitalizing energy to living spaces instead of generic knickknacks. Gifting plants merges sustainability with thoughtfulness.

Tips: Add fresh herbs and veggies to home cooking for added joy. For plant-care novices, choose hardy varieties like succulents or snake plants to set yourself up for success.

7. Practice Conscious Altruism with Gifts

Giving back sparks a helper’s high by activating reward centers in the brain. Studies reveal that spending money on others or donating to causes makes people happier than personal spending. This altruism boosts positive social connections and one’s sense of purpose.

Example: Surprise a lonely relative with flower delivery or support a friend’s handmade jewelry small business instead of buying luxuries for yourself that will quickly be forgotten. Practicing kindness feeds the soul.

Tips: Incorporate disadvantaged groups into your giving plans, like LGBTQ+ centers, women’s shelters, or animal rescues. Consider recurring monthly donations to sustain programs assisting vulnerable populations.

Case Study: Anna’s Transformation

Anna felt stuck in an unfulfilling life of long workweeks, unhealthy takeout, and nights glued to Netflix. She barely saw friends and hadn’t used her vacation days in years. Ready for change, Anna committed to buying happiness intentionally based on scientific research.

She splurged on whitewater rafting and mosaic art classes, carved out active time biking along the shoreline, and hosted lively game nights for her social circle. Anna upgraded her mattress for better sleep, saw a therapist for self-care, adopted a rescue pup as a new companion, and practiced small acts of kindness like buying coworkers coffee.

Anna felt happier, healthier, and more socially connected within a year. She tapped into new passions, became physically active, and established uplifting routines. By focusing spending on scientifically backed happiness boosters, Anna enriched her present while working towards a fulfilling future.

Key Takeaways

  • Purchase experiences more than material goods
  • Spend money on shared activities with loved ones
  • Buy items that enable an active lifestyle
  • Upgrade areas like your bedroom for better sleep
  • Splurge on personal growth and self-care
  • Bring more plants and greenery into your living spaces
  • Practice conscious gift-giving and altruism


Happiness derives from healthy social bonds, realizing full potential, finding purpose, and mindfully caring for oneself. Reflect on your core values and interests to determine fulfilling expenditure categories. Devote finances towards long-term well-being instead of fleeting things.

The path to happiness looks different for everyone. But by intentionally spending, you can surround yourself with mood-boosting activities, environments, and people. Compound these science-backed investments to design a lifestyle aligned with your authentic self. Don’t just ask what you want to buy, but what brings you joy and gives your life meaning. Then start investing in these happiness channels through wise purchases guaranteed to brighten your outlook.