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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Year of Plenty

Invest In New Experiences Not New Gadgets For Happiness Says Cornell Study

A study by psychologists at Cornell offers great wisdom for those of us caught up in hopes of the new and next "thing" to buy. Stephen Messenger at Treehugger describes the study;

It turns out, in this age of consumerism and gadgetry, that all this stuff we buy isn't really making us any happier--in fact, it's kind of bumming us out. According to the latest research, the key to finding happiness is something far more accessible than what product advertisements would like you to believe--simply enough, it's in having new experiences. Whether it be in traveling to new places, taking a hike with some friends, or even participating in some green activism, investing in experiences delivers more bang for your buck than consumer products--which is good news considering that so much of the stuff we buy ends up as waste...

According to the study, experiences are so effective at making us happy because we truly 'own' them in that they become integrated into our characters and help shape our personalities. Material goods, on the other hand, can really only be 'possessed' and rarely become a part of us in any meaningful way. Also, things we buy are subject to material degradation and devaluation, not to mention a gradual lessening in our appreciation for them. In contrast, experiences are transformed into memories, and even bad ones can be appreciated later on down the line.

Our experience going to Thailand two years ago comes to mind as a great example of this in our lives So instead of lusting after the IPad, start planning the next adventure.

Year of Plenty

The Year of Plenty blog was created by Craig Goodwin in the winter of 2008 to chronicle the experiences of his family as they sought to consume everything local, used, homegrown or homemade. That journey was a wonderful introduction to people and movements in the Spokane area who are seeking the welfare of the community through local foods, farmers markets, community gardens, sustainable transportation, and more fulfilling and just patterns of consumption. In 2009 and beyond the blog will continue to report on these relationships and practices, all through the eyes of a family with young children. Craig manages the Millwood Farmers' Market, is a Master Food Preserver and Pastor at Millwood Presbyterian Church. Craig can be reached at