Less Is More: Why Experiences Hold the Key to Happiness and Not Material Things
Nothing against Mercedes and mansions, but research has shown that the joy we get from material things is often short-lived and brief, while experiences are what really account for a more enjoyable and memorable life.
Baby Boomers, particularly, perhaps are able to recall a time when this was not true, but in the current era, every generation, from Boomers to Millennials, now long for experiences over mere, worldly materials. The best part of it all: The latest scientific research suggests that we have not gotten it wrong, as positive life experiences really do cause deeper and more lasting happiness than buying material things.
So let’s explore what is unquestionably a momentous change in our culture and society, and perhaps what is more important is for us to examine ways to discover new happiness right now and throughout the near future by converting some incredible experiences into reality. You can also experience new encounters through an array of living programs offered at Veranda Club in Florida.
“We Are the Sum Total of Our Experiences”
For generations, mankind was left to our own device in figuring out if money could, indeed, buy happiness. And nothing against exotic cars, luxurious houses, fancy jewelry, designer clothing, and the likes, but today, technological advances and research show that the happiness that we get from material possessions is often short-lived and brief, while experiences better describe the person that we are.
Leading Cornell University researcher Dr. Thomas Gilovich says, the difference is adaptation. As humans, we adapt fairly swiftly to our lives with even the most desirable things in them, and instantaneously, the happiness we once experienced because of them is partially lost.
This in turn shows, as Gilovich suggests, our most precious and richest memories are consequences of the experiences we’ve had and not of the material goods that we possess.
Today, We’re All Going Through the “Experience Economy”
Our online shopping habits aside, we’re actually going through an “experience economy” where almost 75% of both young and old Americans appreciate experiences over materials. A great number of people may not realize it, but look at the rage in society today and we will see how our lives have become a pursuit of happiness through our own encounters, which collaboratively outline our overall lifestyle.
Is it all that surprising, then, that social events like axe throwing and escape rooms, international cooking classes, craft brewery tours, and truly memorable travel encounters are some of the things that we are passionate about? Factor in the spike of freelance careers and it all proves that happiness today is embedded deep in the experiences that make up part of our life journey than it is about fancy titles, shiny baubles, and accumulating the most “stuff.”
So What Is It That You Most Want to See and Do?
If experiences really do hold the keys to happiness, then it begs a rather simple question: What is it that you most want to see and do in your life right now? Perhaps it’s to experience the lights of Broadway or even have those bright lights shining on you. Maybe it’s to witness the beauty and wonder of the Grand Canyon and America’s national parks. To see a game in one (or many) of today’s iconic baseball stadiums. Or maybe it’s something different and all your own.
Certainly, it’s up to each individual, but the point remains the same: Answer the above question honestly and it may help illuminate a path toward more health and happiness in the year ahead.
For most experience seekers, it’s travel they crave. So for those who have always dreamed about going whale watching in the Pacific, seeing Europe, Asia or even Antarctica, maybe this is your time to stop saying “No” and start packing your bags instead.
And more than just taking the “bucket list” kind of trips, think about how best to go through life within and around your hometown. Start putting together the different aspects of your life—from where you live and how you plan your social calendar—to provide regular exposure to more pleasing and memorable experiences—the kind that let you live more like a tourist in your own town.
In all, do your part to experience life wherever you are each day, because today especially, you don’t have to have it all to be happy and live a lifestyle that’s rich and fulfilling!