Experiences, Not Things

By Aparna Mele

In today’s world, society places great emphasis on material things, distracting us from the real priorities in life—our TRIBE.  The trouble with things is that the transient happiness and exhilaration they bring eventually fades, far sooner than the item itself does. As the novelty quickly wears off, we are left with the desire for something new for the next thrill. We try to raise the bar higher for something bigger, better, faster, to improve upon the satisfaction we got from the thing we had before. Things create competition, as we try to keep up with others’ acquisitions to maintain our own self-worth. Finally, as many of us are lucky enough to have everything we need, often holiday presents get packed away in cupboards, hardly appreciated or used.

Research has shown that in terms of happiness and a sense of well-being, spending money on new experiences is much more profitable than buying new things. Experiences bring more joy.   Planning for experiences often generates immediate excitement which lasts throughout the experience, and this excitement continues to resurface with our memories that last forever.  Our richest and most precious memories do not originate from material goods we’ve purchased.  Instead, they are a consequence of experiences we’ve had.

Experiences produce emotions that are heightened by the people we share them with. If this is true, why aren’t we embracing experiences with those we love over things?   There are plenty of perfect presents that don’t take up any space at all and give you the chance to show how much you really know and care about your loved ones, rather than just sending another gadget or gift basket their way. An experience gift is not only sustainable and environmentally friendly, it will help you cultivate a strong personal relationship with the people in your life.  Consider signing up together for a class or workshop to learn a new skill, purchasing tickets for a fun event or membership to a valued place, cooking up a delicious meal, planning a getaway, or creating a perfect fun day together!

This holiday season, before embarking on a major shopping spree, reflect on what is most important to you and your family, how long the satisfaction of new things actually lasts, and consider shifting your focus to experiences you can share together, to strengthen relationships and create memories that will last a lifetime!

“We are the sum total of our experiences.”

-Dr Thomas Gilovich, Professor of Psychology at Cornell University

You Might Also Like