If you’re conflicted about whether to spend money on a material good (say, a computer) or personal experience (say, a vacation), the research says you’ll get much more satisfaction — and for longer — if you choose the experience. Most of us, it turns out, get more bang from the experiential buck. Indeed, when people are asked to recall their most significant material and experiential purchases over the previous five years, they report that the experience brought more joy, was a source of more enduring satisfaction and was more clearly “money well spent.”
This might seem counter-intuitive. The material good lasts while the experience is fleeting. But psychologically it’s the reverse. We quickly adapt to the material good, but the experience endures in the memories we cherish, the stories we tell and the very sense of who we are.
—from Gary Belsky and Tom Gilovich’s article in Time, “Want Happiness? Don’t Buy More Stuff — Go on Vacation”
This one article is responsible for convincing my wife to take a road trip to Montana in a couple weeks. After days of debate, I’ve learned that Belsky and Gilovich carry more authority and are more persuasive than the love of a good husband and 20 years of marriage. *grin*
Whatever it takes! Swan Valley, here we come! The Griswolds are on the loose.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Repossessing Virtue: Greg Epstein on Human Solutions and Not Divine Ones
» download (mp3, 11:47)
Rob McGinley Myers, Associate Producer
We last spoke to Greg Epstein in the wake of a Pew poll on the American religious landscape, finding that 16 percent of Americans identified themselves as unaffiliated, atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular. Greg Epstein is the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, and he has been an emerging leader in trying to unify that growing population of the non-religious — to create a community driven not by a stance against religion, but by positive ethical beliefs and actions.
So as we turned to Greg Epstein again, we wanted to know how he’s seen his community experiencing the current economic crisis. Epstein once defined humanism as “philosophy of life without supernaturalism that affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment aspiring to the greater good of humanity.” It turns out that the current economic crisis has refocused his community’s vision of what that “greater good” should look like.
A New Jubilee
Andy Dayton, Associate Web Producer
Just when I thought I’d had my fill of historical Jewish customs for the time being (last week I waist-deep in Scott-Martin Kosofsky’s The Book of Customs for our Hanukkah program), I ran into an interesting Financial Times article referencing a tradition of routinely absolving debts described in the Old Testiment and Torah.
Deuteronomy dictates that “at the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts.” After seven of those seven-year cycles (called Sabbatical cycles), comes the jubilee year — a year where material possessions and land are returned to their original owners, and servants are emancipated. The FT article suggests that one solution to the current economic crisis could be to have our own version of the jubilee year — not by absolving debts outright, but by converting them into government-backed, low-interest loans.
I was equally intrigued by the image that was selected to accompany this article: The Moneylender and His Wife, by Flemish painter Quentin Metsys (seen above). According to the description on the Musée du Louvre’s Web site, “the shiny gold, pearls (a symbol of lust), and jewelry have distracted the wife from her spiritual duty, reading a work of devotion.” The objects behind the two figures are also ripe for interperetation, but perhaps the most potent item in this painting — especially for an artist intending to send a moral message — is in the foreground: a mirror “reflecting” the world outside.
Find more of our coverage of the economic downturn, see our Web site for Repossessing Virtue.
The Language of Money
- Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
- toddler: (holding up a penny) Uh-dakah!
- father: (leaning in) Dollar?
- toddler: (thrusting penny in the air) Uh-dakah!
- father: No. That's a penny.
- toddler: Uh-dakah.
- father: That's money. Can you say mun-eeeee?
- toddler: Money! Dakah.
- father: You buy things with it.
- father: (looking quizzically at mother): What's he keep saying? I can't understand him.
- mother: I don't know. (turning to toddler) Penny.
- toddler: Dakah.
- mother: (to father) Maybe it's the Hebrew -- from school.
- father: I don't know the Hebrew word for money. Do you?
- mother: No.
- father: Google it.
- mother: (searching)
- father: I learned about this on the show. Isn't it zakat or something? No, wait. That applies to Muslims. Maybe zedekah... or something similar.
- mother: Here it is. Tzedakah. Charity.
- father: Hm.
- mother: Here he sees a penny and thinks of giving it away. And we see it and instantly thinking of buying things.
- father: I guess we just learned something from a two year old about money.
- mother: I think so.
- father: Man. We better sign up for some Hebrew lessons...