In today’s world, most people are in frantic and frenzied. There is a hurry to get from one place to another and there is also the belief that it is a must to keep up with the Joneses and amass wealth in order to afford and accumulate material things, which are used nowadays as a basis of one’s success and one’s standing in society.
There are various reasons why the world has come to this, but I digress. Oftentimes, people think that material things will make them happy. The newest gadgets, the most expensive bags and designer clothes and footwear are designed and marketed as if they can put a smile on your face and make all your problems. I admit, I was once one of these people.
However, I found out, to my utter disappointment that it was all smoke and mirrors. Money does not exactly translate to happiness and material things are not tantamount to peace of mind and a feeling of contentment. So, why should you opt to fill your life with adventures and not material things?
We easily get bored with material things
Hedonic adaptation, according to science, is the main reason why material possessions are not as good as making us happy. Acquiring something new can be exciting but as soon as we adapt to it, it becomes less likely to bring us joy. According to research, hedonic adaptation is less likely to happen with experiences.
In order to test this theory, researchers ran an experiment with more than 300 participants. Each of the participants had to choose an experience or a material good. The participants’ happiness were then tracked after a few minutes, a few days, a week and two weeks.
The outcome of the research was clear as daylight, the happiness of the people who chose material goods fell far more steadily compared to those who chose an experience.
Material things fade, experiences do not
Material things, like everything in this world, gets worn out, fades, and sooner or later will server their purpose and will have to be replaced. These things do not happen with experiences. Your experiences stay with you for as long as you live. The designer bag you have bought during your Paris vacation will outlive its purpose and will have to be thrown out one day but the excitement you felt as soon as you landed at the airport and the laughter and happiness you shared with your travel companions are just plain priceless. Investing in experiences is a small price to pay for something that is lasting.
Whenever I get tempted to buy designer bags, I always ask myself how far the price tag will get me, the places I will get to see, the cultures I will get to discover and the people I will get to meet if I spend the money on traveling instead and experiencing something new. One easy way to fill your life with experiences? Book that plane ticket and put the handbag back on the shelf!
Experiences will make you grow as a person
The latest gadgets and the designer handbags and shoes do not become part of who you are, they only portray how you want others to perceive you, but experiences do become part of you! Always ask yourself, would you rather give up an item in your household or an experience you had? My answer is always the former.
Before you claim that traveling is far too expensive, please consider what you are investing on. The clothes will go out of style and the gadgets will get broken but keep in mind what the famous poet Maya Angelou said, “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been, told, forgot – its all there.”
We are social creatures
Humans are social creatures. We yearn to be in the company of other people. We like to talk to people. We like it when people listen to us and we want to feel as if we belong. This means that experiences can make us happy more than material things.
In order to test this hypothesis, psychologists conducted a speed-dating experiment with certain rules. Some were told that they could only discuss recent material purchases and others were told to only discuss recent experiential purchases. After they were all asked in private how much they like the conversation and the person. More reported liking the person and the conversation if the other person discussed experiences.
Personally, I would rather hear other people talk about the most recent trip they tool and the fun times they had. Listening to other people talking about their recent iPhone purchase will just get me bored and won’t get me interested to participate in the conversation.
Experiences can teach valuable life lessons
Experiences can teach you valuable life lessons, which material things can never do. Experiences also give you something to look back on. Twenty years from now, will you be talking about the solo trip you took to Europe and the lessons you have learned while traveling alone? Or will you be talking, or will you still be able to remember, rather, the expensive phone you purchased after getting your bonus?
Most likely you will have forgotten about the phone, its features and its price. However, you will still be able to recall what you did in Europe and even look back on it with happiness. You will also be more likely to tell your children about your trip to Europe than the phone you bought years ago.
The next time you are faced with a decision, if you should buy material things, spend on experiences instead. Experiences can be just like magic and no this idea is not too far-fetched, it is actually backed by science. Experiences will fill your life, rekindles the passion in your soul and open your eyes to the world.