Recent research has shown that experiences, not things, make us happier for longer. As I contemplated what to give my husband for his Birthday, he provided some inspiration focused on experiences rather than things. He wants to learn how to fly a helicopter, he would like a driving experience at Mercedes-Benz world and he wants a sports massage. I am more than happy to indulge him with experiences, where budget allows, as I believe they will be far more memorable to him in the long run than mere things. He doesn’t like clutter anyway so I know experiences rather than things would make him happier.
The research revealed that participants who bought items that they desired later felt that in the longer term an experience would have made them happier.
Advertising and social media make us feel that going on a spending spree and surrounding ourselves with items will make us happy, but we are being duped. The short-term high you get from spending won’t match the high you get from an enjoyable experience.
Last summer, my husband and I decided that we were not going to buy Christmas presents in December for each other. Instead we decided to book a family holiday to Greece. It was the most memorable week. We took our boys paddle boarding for the first time in gorgeous crystal clear water. We took them out on a catamaran and they had the opportunity to sail it themselves. They tried windsurfing, they built sand castles and they made friends. I enjoyed Pilates classes on the sun terrace every afternoon whilst my husband relaxed by the pool with a book. Far more memorable than any Christmas gift we could have given each other.
If you think about children, we know that they are enriched by positive experiences, not being inundated with toys. So why would we be any different?
People often use spending to fill voids in their lives. If that void happens to be loneliness, imagine how much better you would feel getting out there and experiencing something different, joining a class, visiting new places or learning a new skill. You will meet new people, it will give you something new to talk about and it will boost your confidence.
When my husband and I first started dating we wrote a list of places we wanted to visit and things we wanted to see and do. We still have loads to tick off our list but it is an ever evolving list, and when we are grey and old, we can look back at all of the wonderful experiences we have shared over the years.
How about writing your own experience wish list? Your happiness could depend on it.