When you were a child, what’s your fondest memory? Was it playing with your stuffed animals in your play area? It very well could have been if you had one of those faithful puppy’s who were with you through the thick and thin. But what about that family vacation you took to Disney World, or that time you went to Niagra Falls and felt the mist tickling your cheeks? That was pretty incredible…kind of beats out the 30th stuffed animal you received for your 6th birthday, doesn’t it? Now flash forward to present day. Let’s compare your last trip to Greece with the $700 you just spent on new clothes. Just think, that bundle of change could have been a round trip ticket to a new vacay spot… Pretty depressing, huh?
A lot of our habits form when we’re barely cognizant of the world around us. As children, we look up to our parents and mimic their actions and personalities. If your mother or father places high importance on status and material goods then chances are you’re going to imitate this lifestyle and mind frame. Consequently, if/when you become a parent your actions will be mirrored by your offspring as well.
But why exactly is it important to collect experiences and not things? Research suggests that experiential purchases have a higher rate for providing a more enduring and long-lasting happiness than materials. This investigation does not lie solely in the outcome of the experience or the eventual attainment of the possession, but it deals with anticipation as well. Waiting for experiences tends to bring about more happiness than waiting for a possession. Living in the moment is something that we are not able to practice every day, so looking forward towards a future event replaces that desire (Psychological Science).
Cornell doctoral candidate Amit Kumar describes excitement and impending anticipation like this: “You can think about waiting for a delicious meal at a nice restaurant or looking forward to a vacation and how different that feels from waiting for, say, your pre-ordered iPhone to arrive. Or when the two-day shipping on Amazon Prime doesn’t seem fast enough” (The Atlantic).
Personally, I’m completely in line with the mentality that I’d rather save my money for travel than for a new patio set. However, the question does remain – wouldn’t you be happier with something that’s long lasting and that you could use every day rather than an experience that may only last a week? Unfortunately, once a routine occurs, even that car you’ve needed so badly becomes obsolete. You become used to its everyday presence and take it for granted/don’t look upon it quite as fondly as you initially did. However, have you ever reminisced on your backpacking trip through Germany with anything less than fondness? Even when something goes wrong on a vacation you can usually make light of it during the time, and, if not, years down the road you’re able to laugh at the bad turn of luck you may have incurred. Other times, such as being stranded at an airport, you can bond with your friends and family members in ways that you couldn’t even imagine prior. However, when your shipment for the latest Xbox is delayed two weeks there is never going to be a time where you’ll look back and be glad it was late. It just isn’t going to happen.
Another study revealed that there are two types of transactions and each one has drastically different results. Say you’re in line for a Justin Timberlake concert. Chances are you’re going to strike up conversations with those around you and possibly make friends with them for the rest of the evening. There’s no competition involved because everyone is going to have relatively the same enjoyable experience, and there’s nothing to be gained by being rude to someone. However, let’s take Black Friday for instance. You hear these horror stories where people are trampled and injured because someone wants to get that 64 inch TV that’s been reduced a mere 30%. At the end of the day, the satisfaction people are receiving from these type of events are toxic and not lasting (The Atlantic).
Character is built when you’re purchasing events as opposed to toys. These trips and places you travel to, even if it’s just an hour away, builds self-confidence and introduces you to new situations that you would ordinarily not be able to experience. Greed is perpetuated with the constant need to fulfill our consumeristic desires.
I’ll leave you with this, material items are far more fleeting than memories. You’re only going to have your Macbook for five to seven years tops, and then it’s on to the next model. The trip to London you took with your brother is something that only lasts twelve days, yet you’re still talking about it ten years later. Once you’re able to lose your obsession with material items you will feel lighter with better priorities. Try to save for a vacation next time instead of the latest gaming consul. Once you take that trip see how you feel, chances are you’re going to have quite a change in perspective on life.