I derive great joy in planning experiences for myself and my group. I equally enjoy experiencing those experiences and then reliving them fondly in conversation with family and friends. Each and every post on this blog is about experiences (mostly good) that cover the gamut: theater, exercise, travel, animals, parties and just time together.
I was very happy to read in Forbes this week that science totally supports this choice! A 20 year study out of the Cornell Psychology department has found that making the decision to spend money on experiences rather than things leads to more enduring happiness than if the pursuit is flip flopped. Sure there is the initial glee of acquiring a shiny new thing. But that shine quickly fades, someone else gets a shinier thing, and to maintain that glee you have to go and get a new shiny thing. Your experiences, however, stay with you. They define you. They are your story. Pleasure begins at the first second of planning the experience and stays with you as you savor the experience and then reflect back on it.
While my philosophy of gathering experiences over things has been in place for about the last decade, the reality is that after 22 years of marriage and multiple moves, my family has acquired a great deal of stuff. Much of this extraneous stuff resides in the basement of our house in Montauk. This week, at the urging of my Uncle Bob, we began the excrutiating process of cleaning out the old stuff. With very little effort, a team of us piled literal truck loads of formerly prized possessions in the back of Uncle Bob’s truck (grab your group and clean!).
When the truck drove away, I was not one bit sad to see these these things go. Rather I was happy to say my good byes, and say hello to the new floor space in the basement. I am no Marie Kondo (really, really far from it), but this exercise did remind me of my central goal in life: collect experiences, not things!
Thank you researchers and thank you science for backing me up! I will stay the course and continue to grab experiences over things with my group. Who’s with me?