I don’t know about you, but after about a year of this recession, I became tired of all the bad news and negative indicators. I wanted to hear more about life after the recovery. In particular, how will these historic times make their mark on people’s wants, needs and buying habits?

If an article I recently read in The New York Times is any sign, pools, spas and waterfeatures will stand in good stead.

The piece, titled “But Will It Make You Happy?”, begins by explaining that many Americans are paring down possessions and becoming less apt to accumulate debt or things. On its face, this may not sound like good news to anyone in sales. But as a result of this scaling down, consumers are more attuned to what truly enhances their lives and choose their purchases accordingly. The great news is that this industry’s products fall right in line.

Psychologists, university professors and retail specialists predict people will gravitate more toward purchasing experiences than things. Experiences strengthen relationships — a crucial ingredient to happiness — and give people something to reminisce about. Where a new car loses its sheen, even an imperfect experience becomes better through the lens of nostalgia.

One study examined nine categories of consumption and found only one to increase happiness — leisure, including vacations, entertainment and sports. The study showed that a $20,000 bump in leisure spending boosted one’s happiness about as much as being married. Staycations were specifically mentioned.

Yes, if these experts are right, pools and spas will likely remain in direct competition with vacations, boats and the like, but they should surpass products like luxury cars. With industry sales, marketing and advertising already focused on experience and family togetherness, rather than keeping up with the Joneses, the pool and spa industry can only benefit from this trend.

I found another point in the article very interesting: Purchases become more satisfying when they follow a period of anticipation. We know that, until financing loosens, many will have ample time to imagine how much fun they’ll have in the pool or spa of their dreams. I wonder how professionals can stoke that fire of anticipation. How about an online dream journal, where prospective customers can log onto a personal page on your Website and list things they’ll want one day? Maybe the industry should see more tools that allow consumers to go online and design a pool onscreen.

Finally, these experts say that consumers may even seek better experiences and more social interaction in the process of shopping and purchasing. Sellers will need to work harder to offer better service and human connection. This is something that pool and spa professionals are uniquely positioned to do, if they don’t already.

We’ve always known that pools, spas and waterfeatures make life better. It’s nice to hear that once things smooth out, consumers will appreciate this more.