Experiences or Stuff?

Is there any topic that you’re really interested in? I love reading about happiness, mindfulness and positivity stories. Did you know that you can set up Google Alerts that will monitor the web and will send you links to content related to your search terms?  I love this and thought I should share this with you. It’s like receiving a little knowledge gift in your inbox everyday. I used to receive knowledge management links when I worked in this field and loved seeing the latest and greatest news and research. Just type “google alerts” in your search bar and they’ll walk you through the simple setup.

I am preparing a program about the gift of happiness and looked through some of the research I’ve collected on the topic. One of the sections is about whether money can buy happiness. And of course, the answer is, it depends. I love this answer, by the way, for many questions, like when your kids ask you whether they can have x,y or z, you can buy yourself some time in deciding your reply by saying it depends.  I also like answering with a question and having them try to think for themselves. But that’s another topic.

So back to this money and happiness thing…they say after about $75,000, your needs are met and more money doesn’t necessarily bring more happiness.  Let’s say you have more money and your food and shelter needs are met, how should you spend that extra money to bring you happiness?

They say that spending money on experiences will bring you more long term happiness than spending money on stuff. When you spend money on something fun, you get the joy and anticipation of waiting for the event and then you get to enjoy the actual experience. And then afterwards you have the joy and excitement from the memory you’ve created and the stories you get to share. Plus, most people don’t compare their experiences or feel that someone else has a better experience than themselves, so there is a more complete sense of joy.

The other thing about material acquisitions is that we adapt to the thing quickly and then want the next thing and don’t stay satisfied for long. We also tend to compare what we buy with what others have bought and this sometimes leads to dissatisfaction.  For example, if I buy a new iPhone 5 and then my friend buys a new iPhone6+, I might feel like mine isn’t good enough, just from knowing that my friend has one that is better even though I was perfectly happy with my own until I compared myself to others even though I and you never, ever do that, right?  I might want to have the iPhone195 just to feel superior and that mine is the best. But you know the next iPhoneMillenium would be right around the corner and lead to my quick disillusionment. So stop with the stuff and the quick fix that needs another quick fix and spend your money on play and fun instead, and be sure to share that fun with someone.  Experiences, especially shared ones with loved ones, create memories and stories and that’s what gives life meaning.

Another guru says that the secret to the good life are good relationships. So see? I think we’re on to something.

Pick a loved one, a BFF or special someone and plan something for you both to experience together and it doesn’t have to be fancy. Enjoy the anticipation before you go, have fun together, share your story and live happily ever after.