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Scientifically Proven: Home Exchange creates lasting happiness

by John Mensinger on November 24, 2014

The Wall Street Journal of November 10, 2014 had a story by Andrew Blackman titled “Can Money Buy Happiness?”   

The article discussed research comparing the happiness folks received from buying a material item versus the happiness from having a unique experience.  To quote “Numerous studies conducted over the past 10 years have shown that life experiences give us more lasting pleasure than material things . . .” 

You can discuss home exchange adventures with friends.   The 7 weeks we spent with a house exchange in Berlin, for example, has become part of our identity.  As the article said about another experience, “. . . that’s something you’ll always remember and talk about long after all your favorite gadgets have gone to the landfill.”   I feel that way about all 22 of our home swaps; admittedly some were more exciting and memorable than others.

Folks tend to get used to their material goods, taking them for granted.  This process is called “hedonic adaptation.”  We have a lovely and spacious home where the sun shines at least 8 months of the year.  We tend to complain about the heat and boring weather.  After three weeks in an apartment in Europe we appreciate returning to the California climate.  We have the delight of getting reacquainted with the home, garden, and boring things you only get excited about if you don’t have them such as a dishwasher or microwave oven.

The article discusses the views of Prof. Lyubormirsky of the University of California, Riverside saying “If you keep a painting hanging in the same spot on the same wall, for example you’ll stop noticing it after a while.   But swap it with a painting from another room, and you’ll see each of them with fresh eyes, and appreciate them more.  Try sharing possessions with other people, too, and opening yourself up to new experiences.”   

That quote could have been written to advocate home exchange.   Julia and I had 6 wonderful and happy weeks of B and B this summer—home exchanges in Brighton, England and Bilbao, Spain.  They will bring us joy for many years to come.  You will hear about the experiences in subsequent posts.


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