Whether it be events I attend, events I organise, places I go, or family fun moments with my son I really am all about happy experiences. In this post I am discussing the happiness gained from experiences rather than material things and ways in which you can adopt this way of thinking in to your life.
I recently watched a TV programme, where a family had spent a lot of money on expensive games consoles for each child to play seperately in their bedrooms. The presenters then got them to be creative and play free activities together as a family. They seemed pleasantly surprised how much fun they all had doing this together and that perhaps they didn’t actually need all of the expensive technology. They were surprised by this!
I found myself totally confused that it took someone else suggesting it for them to enjoy spending quality time together as a family (without expensive gadgets). This was not something that they did anyway!
I’m in no way saying I’m perfect in this area either or trying to criticise the families on these programmes – my son has games consoles (in the living room), an iPad and plenty of toys too and sometimes he will play those himself, without my direct attention. However, we also spend a lot of quality time together creating fun happy moments and experiences.
I am very much someone who appreciates the experiences over ‘things’. Also on these type of programmes people are spending a lot of money on brands, expensive clothing, shoes, watches etc. That’s fine if that’s what you like and you have the money to spend on this… For me personally I like to spend my spare money on days out, activities, nice meals etc. I have limited ‘spare’ money after paying for essentials so spending that money on creating fun happy moments seems more worthwhile than using it for fancy clothing or technology. In the long run the experiences and time spent with my son is going to be more valuable. Especially as my son is growing up at a speedy rate, I need to treasure this time with him.
Experiences tend to make us happier than buying material items that don’t truly make us happy or help us grow as a person. There is a great article on entrepreneur.com all about why spending money on experiences makes us happier than buying stuff which I really enjoyed reading.
Think about when you are growing old looking back on your life… Will you be thinking I’m so glad I bought that expensive watch, latest games console and branded item or are you going to be thinking about the time you spent with the people you love, the moments that made you laugh, the experiences and places that you explored..?
I think we all know which is more likely.
Psychology professor, Dr Thomas Gilovich, completed a 20-year study showing that spending money on experiences and not buying ‘things’ can indeed make us happier.
Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods – Dr Gilovich
I am not trying to say people shouldn’t buy things – my house is filled with toys, clothes and technology too so I would be very hypocritical. However many of my items are not the most expensive… I am currently writing this on an old second hand iPad that a family member no longer used. It does the job and left me some extra money to have fun, instead of buying a brand new iPad and not being able to afford a day out with my son.
It can be really simple to focus on ‘experiences over things’ and ‘spending more time, not more money’.
Here are 5 ideas to get you started:
- When you need to buy something which is typically rather expensive – can you buy it second hand, borrow one, buy in a sale or find a cheaper alternative?
Save the money you would have spent and use it for a fun day out or adventure instead
- Set aside a small regular time each week to spend quality time with your child/partner/friend without technology or spending money. Go for a walk, chat and really listen to one another…
- Create a fun activity ideas jar – write down ideas on paper, fold them up and put them in a jar. When you are looking for things to do you can pick one out at random and do this. See my family fun activites.
- Instead of buying people gifts such as jewellery, why not buy them an experience that you can use together (such as concert tickets or a restaurant voucher) or even make them something meaningful (a photo album etc). Most people will value this more.
- At the end of each week or month write down 3 moments that made you happy (focus on experiences not things of course!) This will make you think about all those memories, identifying what truly makes you happy… And you can make sure you include more of them in the following month.