Fill your life with adventures not things

This article is exploring why you should fill your life with adventures not things. Experiences are said to be key in the pursuit of happiness. Whereas material things clutter up your home and leave your memory fast.

Happiness is an indicator of health and money can make you happier. But once you’ve met your basic needs that high you feel emotionally is limited. In striving for happiness we tend to want to buy a physical thing because it will last longer than an experience. But the assumption that it would therefore make us happier for longer is wrong. New objects are exciting at first, but then we adapt to them and they blend into our background.

Why do we keep making this mistake?

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This article is exploring why you should fill your life with adventures not things. Experiences are said to be key in the pursuit of happiness. Whereas material things clutter up your home and leave your memory fast. Happiness is an indicator of health and money can make you happier. But once you've met your basic needs that high is limited. In striving for happiness we tend to turn to a physical thing because it will last longer. But the assumption that it would therefore make us happier for longer is wrong. New things are exciting at first, but then we adapt to them and they blend into our background. Why do we keep making this mistake?

When the buying starts

We are encouraged to buy things from a young age, well before we have any earning ability. For me, as an 80’s kid I remember a head bopper buried in everyones drawer. Look them up. Very flattering. That trend lasted a few months and most of us were grateful when the phase passed.

Next came along the jeans with the stripes down the outer leg. The big deal was whether you chose red or white. Another purchase in pursuit of happiness.

My first biggie, was sitting in my first new car. It was magic, thrilling. For a moment that heated seat made me feel as if my life was complete.

I still really like my material stuff. I consider them part of my identity. I do, however, except that they remain separate from me. Experiences and adventures make memories – and it is these we carry around as part of who we are.

Collect moments not things

When I first understood

I met my husband when I was 16. He took me on a date to, well no where really. He hadn’t properly planned it. But, as he drove me into London we spent the journey peering into the posh houses imagining the homes within. Eventually, we walked off the cold streets into a packed pub where we managed to bag ourselves a leather sofa – and the rest of the room disappeared. That was over 30 years ago, and he’s been taking me on adventures ever since.

I can’t remember the earrings I wore that night. I really don’t care what make the car was he drove. The intimacy of this experience is what stayed with me.

Since then as we went from dormouse poor (I borrowed my mums bikini for my honeymoon) to doing pretty well (no applause needed – especially if you’re British), most of our memories have been invested in adventures large and small.

Looking back, the best childhood memories were simple experiences like sitting on the fence that surrounded my nan’s caravan watching the horse or lying under her coffee table up on my elbows as the house was filled to the brim with family, and visiting my Aunty in Amsterdam (my first trip abroad).

As soon as our kids existed they became our sidekicks to our adventures. These days the tables are turning and we are beginning to become theirs!

It’s not about having money

If you follow this blog you’ll know that I’m very lucky to experience a lot of wonderful things. It’s not quite what it seems however. Air-miles and hotel points help tremendously.

The point here is that I’m talking about experiences of all kinds within your financial situation. Some of our most unforgettable moments haven’t cost a penny. Like when we walked the dogs in the snow and our Cocker gathered tennis balls of ice on her fur. She looked like we’d decorated her with baubles, but she was as happy as could be!

It’s about deciding when to buy the latest style of coat or a dinner with friends. Or choosing between getting another picture frame or preparing a surprise picnic by a lake.

Size doesn’t matter to happiness. You could buy a bag of sweets or an entire outfit, the result is similar. You could be thrilled by both and both could seem fairly meaningless a short while later.

A new outfit will thrill you the first few times you wear it, but a trip to the beach will probably stay in your mind for longer.

 

This article is exploring why you should fill your life with adventures not things. Experiences are said to be key in the pursuit of happiness. Whereas material things clutter up your home and leave your memory fast. Happiness is an indicator of health and money can make you happier. But once you've met your basic needs that high is limited. In striving for happiness we tend to turn to a physical thing because it will last longer. But the assumption that it would therefore make us happier for longer is wrong. New things are exciting at first, but then we adapt to them and they blend into our background. But why do we keep making this mistake?

It is about being social

I’m a fairly isolated person. Blogging and vlogging involves a crazy amount of time behind a laptop screen. So, getting out into the world is both necessary and fulfilling. Taking the kids out for a meal or visiting a historic village is a destresser as well as a way to create lasting memories.

The people you share experiences or adventures with become part of that story. But even if they weren’t with you, you are more likely to bond over a shared love of a box set or an art exhibition than a pair of new shoes.

It’s about living in the moment

One of my daughters birthdays, my husband put up a tent in the garden and they stayed up all night pretending they were in the wilderness somewhere. She has never forgotten this. Ask her about the present she got that year and I don’t think she knows. My son’s go-cart birthdays are stuff of legends and the kid who broke their arm at the gymnastics party still gets a mention. But most of the presents are forgotten.

One does jump into my mind, however. It was a pair of ‘see in the dark’ glasses we all seriously bought into (in no small part to the very scientific box they came in). The experience of trying them for the first time is still so funny to us. They were basically a pair of plastic glasses with a mini torch attached either side. Worth. every. penny.

Nothing material is intrinsically valuable, except in whatever promise of happiness it carries

Often it’s the purchasing of something that gives the greatest satisfaction. Sometimes when it finally arrives, it’s a little bit ‘meh’. The best bit is often the anticipation and nostalgic longing.

When the purchase is experiential, however, not only do you get all that, but you then get to live in the moment, plus the high of reminisce for as long as you memory holds.

So, for example, waiting for a meal out with a group of friends feels very different than waiting for a pre-ordered i-pad to turn up. After a short while, your i-pad is no longer new but scratched and taken for granted.

Your mood will improve

Research tell us that waiting for a holiday makes us more cheerful than waiting for material goods.

Check the queues at Disney or to food trucks versus those on ‘black Friday’.

 

This article is exploring why you should fill your life with adventures not things. Experiences are said to be key in the pursuit of happiness. Whereas material things clutter up your home and leave your memory fast. Happiness is an indicator of health and money can make you happier. But once you've met your basic needs that high is limited. In striving for happiness we tend to turn to a physical thing because it will last longer. But the assumption that it would therefore make us happier for longer is wrong. New things are exciting at first, but then we adapt to them and they blend into our background...

When things go wrong

Often, even a bad experience becomes better after time.

We were caught up in the recent BA, ‘Ooops, someone pulled the plug out’ debacle. It was pretty stressful as our much anticipated holiday in Tuscany slipped out our hands.

It wasn’t even just an ordinary holiday for us. This one was to celebrate my husbands 50th birthday and my daughters 25th. Even more heartbreaking a secret marriage proposal was planned.

With most of the group with their heads bent over their mobiles a solution was eventually sorted. It involved us flying to Dublin, without a place to stay (eventually we found a house far outside the city) and a flight a few hours later to Italy.

We ended up only losing one day and we’ve gained stories of heroics and hilarious dramas to us to dine out with for years! It turned out to be a great bonding experience for us all.

It's not about having it all, it's about having what you value most

Alternatively, when something goes wrong with the i-pad or a heel comes off my shoe, I’m more likely to stress over the fixing of it or hurl it in the bin.

People appreciate your adventures more than your possessions

Somethings you buy are very connected to an experience: the wedding dress; the board game etc. These purchases are tied to a very special social interaction. It seems more acceptable to talk about these types of buys and people will be more inclined to talk to you about them.

However, generally people don’t like hearing about other peoples possessions very much. At least not as much as hearing about your food festival weekend.

The unknown

With material possessions you pretty much know what you are going to get. But with an experience or adventure it could turn out a whole host of ways! While you are waiting you can imagine up all kinds of outcomes.

With material buys you get an instant gratification and then it’s pretty much down hill from there.

OK for this one it does benefit if you have a positive outlook!

Adventures are harder to compare

It’s actually more difficult to compare experiences than material goods.

‘Her bum bag has a lot more compartments than mine…’. People compare purchased goods because it’s easier to do so.

It’s not that we don’t feel some envy when you see another family in a luxury suite while your room faces a brick wall, but it is possible that the party is happening in that ‘lesser’ room. Besides, the view is always the same when you look up (out of the window, that is. It’s likely that suite has a chandelier).

In the end…

Have stories to tell not stuff to show

Money brings joy but only up to a point. So, try not to put so much value onto possessions when you are in the pursuit of happiness.

So fill your life with adventures not things because it’s all about the memories we carry with us, not the expensive accessories.

Let’s stay connected!!

 

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46 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. I have to agree. When my girls were born, I lavished them with gifts, and in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t. I wish I’d just bought a few things and that way they would treasure what they have, but I think having so much brings less value to things. I would much rather them have an amazing experience than a new toy. Great post. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

    Reply
    1. I think it’s very hard as a new parent not to buy them everything you can! As an older mum now my choices are different. For Christmas I bought my kids and their partners a stay at a zoo. They said it was the best weekend of their life! It made me gloriously happy!! x

      Reply
  2. Such a powerful and wise post. When my mum was dying she made it easier for me by saying that she had been everywhere she wanted to go and done everything she wanted to do so was at peace with dying – this from an avid shopper too but she did not mention one possession. I attended a college reunion with some very rich people a couple of years ago and as I listened to them it really made me count my own riches and I blogged about it too which were so little to do with cash or stuff.

    Reply
    1. I love your comment so much. It has given me a lump in my throat, but it has also made me glad. How wonderful that your mum died without regrets. Feel free to leave a link in another comment here to your blog post, I think my readers will appreciate it x

      Reply
    1. I think it’s easier at my age especially because my cupboards are full of items I’ve bought over the years. I really don’t need another mixing bowl or vase! Thanks for leaving a message x

      Reply
    1. Absolutely! When we get together as a family we are forever saying ‘do you remember when’ we did this or that. Happy memories are like gold! x

      Reply
  3. I couldn’t agree more! I absolutely loved this: ‘I can’t remember the earrings I wore that night. I really don’t care what make the car was he drove. The intimacy of this experience is what stayed with me.’ It really drives home the point… possessions are just ‘things’ we have that pale in significance to what we ‘do’. I felt so excited and inspired reading this post – you’ve made me want to start planning more memories 🙂 Thank you for linking up to #Blogstravaganza

    Reply
    1. Thank you. I do have a number of material things I’m attached to, but even they tend to be attached in some way to an experience we’ve had! x

      Reply
  4. Cried 3 times!! ☺️ This is so inspiring honey! You are so spot on. As you know, having fun and family are 2 values that we both hold very dear and guard ferociously. We have prioritised them throughout our life together and I can’t wait to prioritise them some more with you😍 I mean, how do you Top lying under the Eiffel Tower in the sun and feeling your first born move in your tummy for the first time? ‘Crying again’. I don’t know? but we will give it a bloody good try 😘😘😘

    Reply
    1. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to point out how great memories are. I’m not sure it’s obvious to the young how precious that is… x

      Reply
  5. Growing up I had basically had nothing, but I believe I have spoiled my children because I can suppose. Is it a good thing time will tell great read Thank you for linking to #ThatFridayLinky Please come back next week for

    Reply
  6. Love this post, it’s so true. My best memories have nothing at all to do with material things. We were extremely poor growing up but I had the best childhood and so many great memories. We have started making more of an effort to get out at weekends as a family and have adventures. Nothing that costs money, other than petrol, but just great quality time exploring the local hills and quarries and going rock collecting and exploring. We’ve all benefitted massively.
    #TheListLinky

    Reply
  7. What a great post. It’s something I always try and remember (especially at the moment, as I wish desperately that I had the money to decorate my house the way I see on Pinterest!) but it is hard sometimes not to compare.

    But, the truth is, I would rather go spend a weekend in Europe than buy a sofa…

    Reply
    1. That is exactly the dilemma we all have these days. I see so many gorgeous things in Pinterest and Instagram but you kinda have to jump ahead of yourself and decide what you might matter more further down the line. Thanks for your message Suzie x

      Reply
  8. Such a wonderful post Maria, thank you for sharing. My dear Hubby & I are sorting through over 30 years of accumulated clutter trying to de-junk our home and as you quite rightly said so few things mean anything really. We have found gems though. In a sealed package, inside a larger box, was our perfectly preserved topper from our wedding cake! A treasure indeed! We bought a glass dome display case from ikea and now it has pride of place in our sitting room and makes me smile every time I look at it 🙂 Memories, especially happy ones, truly are priceless. Sending hugs x

    Reply
    1. I loved waking up to this message this morning. I have a few treasures too, and it makes me feel so happy to image you and your husband finding treasures that transport to back to such a special memory. Thank you so much Rosie, you’ve made my day x

      Reply

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