Valuing experiences over things was never really on my radar.
But, as part of my journey back from adrenal fatigue and panic disorder I had to make some changes in my life.
But, one of the big ones that supported my mental health was to reduce my overall stress level and be more mindful of what caused me stress.
To that end, I had to learn more about what made me happy and about happiness in general. I wanted to be well for life. I didn’t ever want to be that sick again, or worse!
Chronic inflammation from stress and poor lifestyle choices can cause all kinds of disease processes. I wanted to get well and stay that way.
So, I knew the changes I would be making were going to be changes for good, not just temporary.
Learning about happiness and what could influence it was a really fun part of my journey. And, research has proven that one way to seriously increase your level of happiness is to practice valuing experiences over things.
What does it mean when you practice valuing experiences over things?
This isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s becoming more of the norm in our society. Basically, instead of worrying about what kind of amazing car you have or how big your house is, you focus on what kind of experiences you’re having.
Are you getting the most out of life?
And, those experiences don’t have to be grand adventures. Setting up a tent in the backyard and camping out or taking a picnic dinner to the beach are both amazing ways to have an experience.
The key is to put a value on having the experience instead of buying the thing. So, when you’ve got your household budget in place, you identify the core items that you have to put money towards.
We actually packed up everything and moved to California to live in the redwoods for a year.
Instead of having two $600 car payments, we have two older cars that we paid cash for. That $1,200 we save per month in car payments goes into our savings account so we can plan trips and take the kids on adventures.
We value life’s experiences over any kind of possession and it brings us more happiness.
How does valuing experiences over things make you happy?
I get it.
It’s a difficult concept to wrap your head around.
I was the person who would go and buy $200 in new clothes every week just because I could. I hated cooking so we ate take out all the time. I never had any idea where our money was being spent and we never had any “extra money”.
Once I started budgeting we had a better handle on things. But, I still wasn’t valuing experiences over things.
I was just being more careful about which things we spent money on.
Then, I started researching happiness and learning about all of the ways that valuing experiences over things has a positive impact on overall health.
Things get boring
Have you ever heard your kid whine about that new toy they absolutely must have or their whole life is going to come to a screeching halt?
And, what happens after you buy it for them?
They play with it for a little while and then it ends up in the pile with all of the other toys. It’s not special anymore and they have lost interest.
This is what happens with things.
We think that our interest in them is going to last as long as the thing lasts.
But, that is nowhere close to being true.
Bigger and better
When you value things over experiences you have to keep raising the bar on the things. For instance, if you buy a new hutch for your dining room you’re going to have to buy a whole set of china to go inside of the hutch.
Then, you will need a new set of tableware to match the china.
And, you can’t have a full set of china and tableware without a brand new dining room table for it to go on.
The list goes on.
This is especially true for things that are in the technology field.
As soon as you get the iPhone 17 the new iPhone XD comes out and you HAVE to have it. Valuing things will send you into a rabbit hole and you will never know true fulfillment or happiness.
Those damn Joneses
Not only are you always having to one-up yourself and the newest thing you’ve just bought, but the Joneses are right outside.
What new item did you just buy?
It doesn’t matter because the Joneses have one that’s even better.
And, they will always be one step ahead of you no matter how hard you try. You can buy all the things and they will still have the next best.
Influence your identity
When you are valuing experiences over things you are opening yourself up to becoming a new person. Experience become part of your identity and influence who you are shaping up to be.
Road tripping with our kids is providing them with memories that are changing their perspective about the world.
Experiences last a lifetime. And, one day, when my kids are looking at pictures together of our trips, they will each remember a different perspective of that trip.
Valuing experiences over things is a huge part of intelligent parenting.
When you have two cars next to each other it’s very easy to see the differences between the two and which one was likely more expensive.
But, if you have two trips to small towns of America next to each other there is no way to compare which trip was better or more valuable than the other.
There is no reason to keep up with the Joneses with respect to experiences because there is no way to do it.
The difference of the before
It has been studied and proven that waiting for an experience causing joy and excitement in people but, waiting to own a thing causes impatience and irritability.
We actually experience the anticipation of things different than we do the anticipation of experiences.
In fact, the anticipation of getting a thing makes us cranky!
Have you ever picked your kids up from school and taken them to get frozen yogurt and talk about their day just because?
After that experience was over, did you think “that totally wasn’t worth the cost of the frozen yogurt? She didn’t even tell me anything I didn’t know and he spilled yogurt all down the front of his shirt?”
I’m guessing the answer is no, you haven’t.
Now imagine you pick them up from school and hand them each a brand new toy. By the time you get home, the head is ripped off of one of them and the other got “accidentally” thrown out the window.
Do you think, “well, that totally wasn’t worth the $40 I spent”?
Hell, you would probably say those words out loud!
Experiences have no perceived value. They are just amazing at their face value.
Valuing experiences over things immediately brings more joy into your life and improves your health and well-being. Not to mention the added benefit of making memories with your family!