Chase experiences, not money.

Ted Bauer
4 min readFeb 21, 2022

Saw the above pull quote in an article about some Yale professor (Laurie Santos) who teaches a class about happiness saying that everyone is too anxious. Here’s that article.

Research on happiness is always somewhat interesting to me. After all, that’s pretty much the basic human emotion we’re all seeking, right? People are always trying to be happy. There are entire industries that spring up around trying to make people happy. We know that only about 1 in 10 Americans can balance “being busy” and “being happy,” and now we may have a little bit more context on those findings.

Thing is, happiness changes a lot over time — as you age — and most people go looking for it in the wrong place.

UPenn marketing professor Cassie Mogilner has done quite a bit of research on happiness, and her findings are interesting. First, there are apparently two “types” of happiness: there’s an excited type and a calm type.

You see the excited type more in teenagers (think of shrieking girls). You see the calm type more in people established in their life.

It’s kind of the reason why you eventually shift from being a Friday night raging party to a Friday night dinner and a movie, and you can still be happy in both contexts. Look at this chart, for example:

Look at how that shifts. It’s drastic. Basically, if a 16 year-old girl and her 50 year-old mom both say “I’m happy,” they’re basically saying the same thing with entirely different meanings (most likely). That’s kind of odd to consider.

The broad takeaway for marketing — which is what Mogilner teaches at a top-tier business school — is pretty clear: when you market to teens, the focus is on excitement and newness. When you market to older people, the focus is on calm.

Here’s the broader takeaway overall:

An interesting implication for consumers, or really anyone who’s interested in feeling happy, is to shift attention away from money, which is a resource that tends to absorb most of our attention and our thinking and planning on a daily basis, and shift attention to this…

Ted Bauer

Mostly write about work, leadership, friendship, masculinity, male infertility, and some other stuff along the way. It's a pleasure to be here.