So if you read last Thursday’s post I left off with the simple statement that experiences trump possessions hands down when it comes to leading a happier, more fulfilling life. Now to delve into the how and why.
As I mentioned before, the intense happiness I got from my iphone purchase was fleeting at best. Once it wore off, it was gone. For another example, think of how Christmas time went when you were a kid. That first day was magical, all those new toys to play with and the anticipation of how much fun you’ll have when you saw how much fun the kids on the TV were having when they played with them.
But inevitably those toys never seemed as fun as they had appeared on TV. Just like with my iphone, after that initial day or two the new and shininess started wearing off, and before the end of winter break it’s a sure bet I’d be complaining to my parents that I was bored.
On the other hand when you go somewhere and do something new, not only do you get enjoyment while you’re actually engaged in the activity, but you gain memories that can be reflected upon later and give you further happiness.
There are some experiences that you will never forget. When my grandmother was nearing the end of her time, she was no longer very aware of what was going on around her, but she remembered a lot of memories from her past and would bring them up frequently. Things she had done when she was a child, life with her husband, and also how proud she was of her children.
In the end, it wasn’t about how much my grandmother owned, it was about how full of a life she had lived, all the things she had done, and what she had accomplished. Experiences give a sense of accomplishment that cannot be achieved by simply owning something. No one on their death bed ever wishes they’d bought more clothes or had a better car, they wish they’d gone out and done more.
Buying a new, fun toy will not get you closer to your ideal vision of who you want to be, and in a way that’s a good thing because it means the reverse is also true. In the event that you should lose your possessions due to an unfortunate accident, or if you choose to give them up to do something like RVing, you are still the same person with the same capabilities. Our belongings do not define who we are. Our beliefs and experiences do. If you want to be amazing, go out and do something amazing.
New experiences pull us out of the ruts and routines that we all fall into given time, and give us a different point of view on life. We become more aware and present in the moment, and that awareness can be a great catalyst for growth and change.
We’ve all heard stories about people who had a life-changing experience, some event that pushed them out of their normal routine to do something big and great. It doesn’t have to be as epic as that, but the more you challenge yourself to try and experience new things, the more you learn and the more confidence you gain in yourself.
There are other benefits to be had from choosing experiences as well.
It is said that doing new things keeps us young. I believe this saying to be true because it engages both the mind and the body, and it’s a well known fact that when you don’t use something, you lose it.
Choosing experiences also gives you more stories to tell, which can make social situations easier when you’re just getting to know someone and aren’t sure what to talk about. You’ll come across as a much more interesting person when you can tell them about all the things you have done.
And those are some reasons why, when you have a limited amount of money, choosing experiences over possessions is the better option. I’m sure you can you think of a time in your own life when choosing to do something rather than buy something lead to a good outcome, and I’d be pleased as punch if you decided to share one of those stories below.
Image courtesy of james.thompson