Giving “experiences” instead of things has become a normal part of conversation. I hear about it from blogs, books, and family personal stories. It makes sense and I often think about it around Christmas and other times of the year.
I recently read The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. The author several reasons why experience trumps possessions. Here are three of those reasons:
Experiences Are Less Likely To Be Compared
Unlike possessions, which tend to bring discontent when new and better versions become available, experiences are personal and hard to compare. Even when friends or family members have grander experiences, they don’t seem to take away the enthusiasm for our own. The person seated in the back row of a concert can love it as much as the guy in the eighth row. There’s no comparison because each person has a great experience. You enjoy bowling with friends the same week your neighbors are on a cruise and there’s no sense of missing out. It’s your experience.
Experiences Grow In Memories
We adapt quickly to new possessions and become numb to them. However, experiences allow us to relive them through stories and memories. Stories and memories typically outgrow the actual experience, overcoming the small, stressful details of the experience so that we remember only the good.
Memories about experiences far outweigh memories of buying things. Thinking about things we have purchased and no longer have or need often brings up bad memories.
Experiences Can Be Accomplished With Less Money
You don’t need a lot of money to have great experiences! This past year, my wife and I sat down before Christmas and created the 2020 Adventures for our family, which was one of our kid’s Christmas presents to open (though they had to wait to open each envelope over the course of the year). Some plans changed due to the pandemic, but the overall sense was really neat. Some envelopes included bigger trips, but others were simple. Surprisingly, the hikes and movie marathons were received with as much excitement as Grand Canyon type adventures. Creating great experiences doesn’t take a lot of money and that is one of the great benefits.
Next time Christmas rolls around, think about giving experiences. And if you don’t want to wait, do it this week!
And by the way, I highly recommend this book – why what should make you happy doesn’t and why what shouldn’t make you happy does!