“After weeks on the road listening to a language you don’t understand using a currency whose value you don’t comprehend, walking down streets you have never walked down before, your old ‘I’, your old story, your old habits – along with everything you ever learned is absolutely no use at all in face of these new challenges and you begin to realise that buried deep in your unconscious mind there is someone more interesting and adventurous and more open to the world and new experiences.”
excerpt from Aleph by Paulo Coelho
Do the above words resonate with you?
Have you ever found yourself returning from a holiday or an overseas business trip with a fresh take on life…?
Perhaps also a feeling of being more invigorated, more grateful, pleased that you discovered something new about yourself…?
Very often I am in communities where I don’t understand a single word that is being said. And I have grown to love it. All my other senses are given a chance to take over. I observe gestures, listen to voice tone and pace and even seem to have a heightened sense of smell and taste. Try it, notice it and grab any opportunity to be in this space of unfamiliarity and watch what happens.
For many years I have been encouraging people to buy experiences and not things. Instead of saving up to buy multiple presents at Christmas, spend the same amount of money and take a family boat trip, go to a theme park, or go camping.
Make memories that you will still be talking and reminiscing about for years to come.
I was delighted when a friend shared with me that now there is science to back up my passion of experiences over things.
Recent psychological research from Cornell University in New York has confirmed that the key to happiness is through experiences rather than things. The two decade study is led by Dr Thomas Gilovich, who says that one of the key underlying differences between our value of experiences and objects is adaptation. We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.
Basically, we get used to the things we own, and over time the happiness we derive from items dwindles. On the flip side, happiness that stems from things we’ve done actually goes up as time passes because those experiences become a part of us and shape our identity. It’s why the leather coat you relentlessly requested for your 21st birthday now sits buried and forgotten somewhere beneath your bed, whereas your two-month adventure through South East Asia is still recalled often and fondly, years later. It’s also why I feel exhilarated when I remind myself of this amazing jet boat ride I had in Sydney Harbour last Christmas…see if you can spot me…
Gilovich suggests that instead of saving for the latest home movie theatre, a much sounder path to happiness is through spending your money on experiences like travel, or even outdoor activities, new skills or visiting exhibitions.
“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you,” says Gilovich. “In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”
I love it! So go on, invest in experiences, a cooking class, dance lessons, surfing lessons, volunteer.
Everyday adventures are so easy to have – eat something on the menu you have never heard of or eaten before, take a different route to work. What new things have you experienced today? This week? Shake it up. Say Yes! when you usually say No. And let the magic unfold.
Thank you so much! Love, Linda x