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Don’t fall for decoy psychology.

Are experiences more important than possessions? Many psychologists think so. People that spend their money on personal experiences such as exotic vacations, relaxation retreats, rock concerts, and romantic getaways are supposedly happier than people that spend their money on material possessions. Apparently, material possessions are hollow compared to the lofty ideals of modern privileged minimalism and vacuous mindfulness. However, many studies regarding human happiness fail to grasp common sense. The answers depend on the subjects, the measures, and the questions they ask. To get the right answers, you must ask the right questions.

Experiences are designed to highlight our lives. These microbursts of intense experiences give us lasting memories, but the actual experience eventually ends, and often quickly and harshly (e.g., over consumption, debt, the dreaded return to work). However, many material possessions, especially art forms, offer lasting happiness extending days into decades. Even better, excess can be corrected by selling (unlike past experiences) and it’s often profitable, liberating, and repeatable. I find that collectors are among happiest people in the world. It's soulcraft to build a private collection. This is where life is lived the most. I'd rather own a few decoys on a desk than visit the Shelburne Museum. I recommend both, but comparing them in terms of human happiness is “decoy psychology".

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