We’re fast approaching the end of 2015 and there’s no doubt we live in an exciting era where people, particularly Generation Y, are beginning to place more importance on experiences rather than materials.
In the pursuit of lasting happiness, it’s no longer about who’s got the latest iPhone, trendiest clothing or the shiniest car.
Yes, you heard that right… It’s no longer about what you’ve got, but rather, what you’ve done.
In light of this fascinating era, the following article explores 5 reasons why you should choose experiences over materials.
1. Experiences stay with you forever.
There’s lots of research that shows that experiences bring people more lasting happiness than possessions do.
The problem with materials is that we become accustomed to them very quickly. They make us feel joy (which many mistake as happiness) for a short while, but then we get used to them, become bored and start desiring the next material. They give us an unsustainable and somewhat fleeting sense of satisfaction which needs to be refuelled by subsequent purchases to live on.
In contrast, experiences stay with us as long as our memory holds up. They don’t become obsolete, need software updates, or deteriorate in value. Even one-off events such as concerts have a life cycle which extends far beyond the actual event – for example, personal growth as a by-product of the experience, sharing the experience with people you meet, and reflecting on the experience with those involved.
2. Experiences are unique and yours to cherish for the rest of your life.
There’s an old saying that goes something like:
“If money can buy it, it’s not exclusive.”
Materials such as electronics, clothes and cars can be acquired by anyone (given that they have the resources). In addition, with the power of modern day technology, materials can be duplicated at the touch of a button with immaculate precision. This makes materials readily available to the masses, thus compromising their exclusivity.
In contrast, experiences are unique, cannot be duplicated, and are yours to cherish for the rest of your life. No matter how hard someone tries, they will never be able to imitate YOUR experiences.
Experiences become part of you – you embody them – and whether you like it or not, the story you tell yourself and others, is the sum total of all of your experiences.
3. Experiences don’t have to cost anything.
Materials such as flash cars, electronics, and designer clothes can come with hefty price tags. But experiences are different – price and quality are NOT in direct proportion, so great experiences can be found without spending a penny.
In fact, looking back at some of my most memorable experiences from the last 3 years travelling such as:
- A nudist CouchSurf in Canada.
- Witnessing the Aurora Borealis in Norway.
- Hitchhiking to and attending a wedding in USA.
These experiences cost little or no money, derived from a spontaneous decision and turned into a memorable story, which I still tell today.
4. Experiences are even better when shared.
Because of the nature of materials, it’s often hard to share them. Their value starts diminishing at incrementally, the more people they are shared amongst.
In contrast, an experience can be far more fulfilling when others are involved. People help co-create the experience, and as some wise man once said:
“Happiness is best when shared.”
Some of my most memorable experiences have been co-created with others:
- Hitchhiking 6,500km across 12 European countries with 4 friends.
- Motorbiking 3,000km across Vietnam on a $200 motorbike with a childhood friend.
- Living out of a car for 2 months and travelling 27,000km down the coast of Australia with a great friend.
Years will go by and you’ll get together with the people you created your experiences with. You’ll laugh, joke, smile and even cry about the good times. And let’s be honest, even the so-called “bad” experiences will eventually become a good story to tell your grand children in the future.
5. Experiences don’t weigh you down.
I’m talking about this point in both a literal and metaphorical sense. Materials take more energy than you think to manage. You may have to:
There’s no denying that materials come with unnecessary obligations. And of course, the more materials we accumulate, the more energy we expend trying to manage them.
For many, this causes stress, confusion, and worry.
Experiences are different though. They are light, don’t weigh you down and you can carry as many of them as your can collect.
They come with no obligations, and as the master of your own life and mind, you have the power to create happy, fulfilling and memorable experiences right now.
The more that you search for sustainable happiness through materials, the more that happiness will elude you.
The reality is, when all is said and done, you will not remember the expensive purchases you made or the possessions that you accumulated.
Instead, why not take the plunge and start filling your bag with as many positive, happy and memorable experiences as possible.
After all, it’s only experiences that stay with us, absolutely, until the day we die.
Daniel Beaumont, on behalf of Podstel, 9th September 2015