Post No.: 0149
Seeking positive experiences is generally better for our happiness and life satisfaction than seeking material possessions. It’s our experiences that ultimately become our life narrative, whereas material possessions generally don’t. It’s our experiences we’ll talk about when we reminisce with old friends and it’s our experiences we’ll want to share with our children. We become happier over time the more positive experiences we have because of the memories, and more indifferent over time with the materials we’ve acquired because of hedonic habituation.
So go for experiences over buying products, especially those that involve spending time with others i.e. are social. Take the opportunity to do things with others. Make your luxury purchases truly occasional treats rather than demands or habits too – they won’t feel special anymore if they’re frequent and expected. Think more about spending time rather than spending money – so seek moments of quality time. Focus on the journey too, not just the destination. Learning new things is a positive experience too!
Don’t compare yourself with others materially. It really helps not to mingle amongst any overtly or covertly catty ‘money and image are everything’ crowds – avoiding these types of social comparisons makes for an overall better quality of life for everyone except for the relatively few richest people in the world. (By the way, not all cats are catty – meow; and not all female dogs are bitchy. That’s human propaganda against other animals!) However, we naturally most envy those who are close to us and are just a little bit richer, smarter, better looking or whatever than us – even more than those who are far away from us and are a lot richer, smarter, better looking or whatever than us; probably because it’s like they are our most immediate competition in sexual selection. But there’s far more to sexual selection than these measures… except to the most vacuous and superficial of chumps! (Okay that was a little bit catty! Teehee.)
If possible, save a bit for a rainy day as security rather than put yourself into debt – that feeling of security reduces a lot of stress. Although if you have urgent debts to repay then pay these off first before trying to save if the interest rates for borrowing are greater than the interest rates for saving (which they usually are, taking note of any charges for early repayments); and there are some cases where debt is acceptable because they invest in the future (e.g. student loans, or a mortgage that one can afford to keep up the repayments for) rather than irresponsible (e.g. purchasing anything you don’t truly need and cannot afford). If you can afford them then a few luxuries now and again are fine in a balanced life but never get into debt for them. The definition of a ‘luxury’ is anything that isn’t strictly necessary.
Don’t habitually ‘buy now, pay later’ because the anticipation can often be the most delicious part of an experience! Anticipation is a huge part of the pleasure so prolong or savour the overall experience. Married couples tend to be at their happiest the year before they marry. Our future outlook is critical to our stress levels and happiness – more than our present state frequently. Not being able to envisage a bright future is a main feature of depression. So delay that gratification rather than demand pleasures immediately. Debt or money problems have conversely ruined many marriages.
Spend on others too if you can, especially if it’ll make a positive difference to them and if you’ll receive fluffy feedback that it has made a positive difference to them (e.g. charities). Invest in others as well as yourself. It’ll also help one to bond with others, so if you feel that someone seems a bit distant – give them a gift i.e. although both matters, it’s actually more about what you invest in others rather than what others invest in you, that makes you feel a bond with someone. So if you don’t feel that close to a particular person – look towards your own efforts first. (Time and again, people grumble behind backs about someone who doesn’t talk to them, yet they haven’t honestly tried to talk to that person either(!))
Naturally, different people can find different purchases more pleasurable than others depending on their personality and sense of identity. Buying things can be an opportunity to express our personalities, as well as to connect with others and to help craft a meaningful life story. Indeed, whether an experience or something material – go for purchases that have some intrinsic meaning and personal importance to you over purchases that are for trying to impress others or have other extrinsic goals. Still, we’re generally more grateful for our experiences and happy memories than the luxury materials we’ve had – no one on their deathbed wishes they’d bought more stuff but rather wish they’d done more things! Bucket lists are normally full of experience activities. Any regrets in life are usually experiential rather than material.
Also, most, even high-achieving, folk when looking back on their lives would rather tell their younger selves to not have been in such a rush, and to spend more time living and experiencing the present with more mindfulness, instead of always looking ahead and worrying about their career path. For most people, their career paths aren’t linear and don’t go to initial plan, they figure things out as they go along, going where their current passions and the opportunities take them, too. That’s the norm. Even many of those who chase a goal, like reaching the top of an organisation, and who actually get there, feel an emptiness if they got there whilst sacrificing so much in their lives. We need time to just be in the moment.
Experiences make the more lasting memories and stories for the remembering self, and other people would rather hear about stories of experiences than possessions too. Experiences allay habituation better because they yield more and/or better life narratives, they become a bigger part of who we are, and the experiences we share with others connect us with others too.
Meow. Fluffystealthkitten has great memories playing parkour over picturesque Paris with siblings whenever the sun started to set. What unforgettable experiences have you had? Please share them with us by using the Twitter comment button below.