Experiences over Things – Because Experience is the best Teacher

“Buy experiences, not things. Spending on experiences makes people happier than spending on things. Things get broken and go out of style. Experiences get better every time you talk about them.” – Jean Chatzky

When I was younger, I wanted the best of everything – be it clothes, skincare, holidays and material things. But as I grow older, material things are slowly losing the importance they once had. When the urge to fill cupboards reduced, the urge to experience started increasing.

I also find that this is something that younger people do more than us. It is perhaps something to do with a scarcity of resources. Growing up in a middle class regulated India, we were hard-pressed to have enough money for a lot of material things and a lot of things that today would seem normal, even in India used to be considered luxury items. But today’s children have grown up with a lot of things we considered a luxury. For example, BB & GG took their first overseas trip and plane ride when they were slightly over a year old while I must have taken my first domestic plane ride when I was about 10-11 years old and my first overseas trip only in my twenties!

For today’s generation who are digital natives, they only know a world where the largest retail store doesn’t own any items aka Amazon, the biggest transportation service doesn’t own any vehicles, Uber, and the most popular hotel chain doesn’t own any hotels aka AirBnB. In a world where jobs are not stable and freelancing and being a digital nomad is slowly becoming a thing, it is no wonder that they prefer to have fewer possessions and more experiences.

So what makes some people choose experiences over things? And while reading up about this issue, I realised that there are many people like me, whole encompass the spectrum of people of all ages, who are starting to opting out of accumulating things and exploring experiences instead.

Experiences result in greater happiness: According to research, experiences result in longer-lasting happiness than material possessions. Humans quickly adapt to their external surroundings and as a result, the happiness provided by new material possessions is short-lived. Over time, people’s satisfaction with the things they buy decreases, whereas their satisfaction with experiences over time increases.

Experiences provide better memories: We usually look back on memories and these memories, especially if they are associated with our loved ones provide us with years of pleasant memories and bring a warm smile in our hearts when we think about them. Does something you own bring that smile to your face? Maybe, but memory will always trump a physical thing.

Experiences result in less clutter: Most physical possessions eventually become a burden on our lives. They take up physical space in our homes and mental space in our minds. They require care, attention, maintenance, organization. Experiences, on the other hand, are accompanied with little to no physical baggage. All you need to do to go back to a memory is to close your eyes and think about that time, there’s no need to clutter up your homes, which are getting smaller, especially in crowded cities like Singapore.

Experiences provide greater opportunity to connect with other people: When we experience things with others because we enjoy time together with people we love and are comfortable with, we can connect with them on a level that spending that time and money on things just can’t do.

Experiences result in greater mindfulness: In a 2010 research, it was concluded that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. And the greater a person’s ability to stay present in a given moment, the greater happiness they experience during and after. Experiences provide a greater opportunity and this regard.

Experiences result in less comparison with others: In a materialistic society, we are always comparing ourselves with others and if we have a bigger house or more possessions, we are supposed to more successful compared to whom we are comparing ourselves with. But how do you compare experiences? There’s no standard template with which you can do that. An experience that is very important to one will have no value to another and so everyone’s experience is unique and special.

Experiences let you grow as an individual: When you experience and learn different things, you can view the world differently. Experiences make you more emphatic and make an individual a better person overall.

So let’s start gathering more experiences to experience the various facets of life to live a more enriched and fulfilling life. While material things may bring fleeting moments of joy, but are separate from the individual. Experiences, on the other hand, live with an individual for a long time, maybe even their own life and become intrinsically entwined with the individual. And at the end of the day, we are the total sum of all our experiences.

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