Studies have shown that money can buy happiness, but it is the experiences that matter the most. The key to buying happiness with money is to spend money on experiences rather than material goods. That said, let’s look at why you should collect instances instead of things, plus seven ideas for doing so.
Why does collecting moments not things matter?
__Research on happiness shows that material things – even very large material things, like your dream car – have no actual effect on your overall well-being. It may make you feel good initially, but the effect will rapidly wear off.
On the other hand, spending money leads to greater, longer term levels of satisfaction both before and after consumption.
It is ironic that happiness decreases over time with things that last forever and lasts forever with experiences that vanish quickly. The reality, however, is much different. Even if you spend more time using a material item than you do an activity, the activity results in greater happiness.
Here are some more reasons why you should collect moments rather than things.
Memories and experiences shape your identity
Your life is dictated by the experiences you have – not by the material possessions you possess. As you grow older and gray hairs appear, you will look back to your scrapbook of memories as the source of endless joy and happiness. By collecting memories, you can have fewer regrets as you grow older.
Collecting moments not things connects you with others
When you acquire experiences not things, you create shared experiences with other individuals – whether it be your family or friends at a concert. This feeling of connection with others is one of the reasons that collecting experiences not things is so important. When you feel comfortable and part of an active community, you tend to be happier.
You’re a more open-minded, intelligent, and outgoing person when you collect moments not things
Think of the person you’re meeting today. They’re likely going to tell you fascinating stories about their previous adventures. They ran a marathon in Greece, summited Mt. Whitney, or learned how to speak Spanish fluently. Their accomplishments make them seem intelligent and outgoing – not the fact that they own a BMW or splurged on a pricey purse.
These are the things you talk about at the dinner table and reminisce about when catching up with friends. Even if they weren’t particularly exciting moments at the time, they often lead to memorable stories.
You have less buyer’s remorse when you collect moments not things
We live in a world full of choices. If you want to buy a laptop, good luck sorting through the thousands of models available. Would you like a pint of ice cream? Congratulations, you have 100 flavors to choose from at a nearby store.
Even if you have to spend hours researching and comparing products, it is difficult to determine the right decision. But experiences are difficult to compare. In other words, you are much less likely to regret what you have done. After all, that trip to the beach looked like the perfect choice when the alternative was staying home alone.
These moments are the best parts of life.
Still not convinced? Give this “collect moments not things” exercise a try
If you’re still not convinced collecting moments not things is important, give this short exercise a try:
Which purchase made you happier?
When reflecting on past experiential purchases, it puts you in a better mood to reflect on past material purchases as well. Even if your experience was inexpensive, it can be more rewarding than buying an item worth the same amount.
In addition, we sometimes try to fill an empty void with things only to discover that it’s emptying our wallets and not filling our needs.
7 Ways to collect moments not things
So, how can you collect moments not things? Here are seven of our favorite ideas:
1. Create a bucket list
You are 42% more likely to accomplish a goal if you write it down.
Call this a bucket list, a new years resolution, or perhaps life goals. Whatever you want! The idea is to make a list of all the experiences you want to have in the next few months and years, so you can use this to plan for the future.
Some of these adventures may be big – like going on your dream honeymoon vacation. Other experiences may be smaller – like taking a weekend trip to a nearby state or going backpacking for the first time. You might also consider attending a nearby concert.
What would you put on your list?
2. Add a “fun money” category to your budget so you can use it to collect memories not things
To earn money without violating the Good Samaritan law and avoiding sin, it is important to build fun, guilt-free income into your budget. Yes, I did say that.
Getting your finances into shape is a marathon, not a quick race. Even if you’re on a budget, you should set aside space to obtain memories instead of material things. Otherwise, it may cause burnout, money disagreements with your spouse or feelings of scarcity.
If you’re really tight on money, be aware that even the most enjoyable experiences can be free. You can hang out with friends at a board game night, visit a beautiful park at sunset, or enjoy a relaxing day at the beach at no cost. These memories last a lifetime.
3. Build date night or family night into your routine
It is so simple to plop down on the couch after a long day of work and mindlessly binge on Netflix until you fall asleep. The average person spends at least three hours a day watching TV!
But setting aside one day a week to go out and have fun with family and friends is another great way to gather memorable moments that are not things and reconnect with the people you care about most.
4. Nurturing hobbies can help you collect memories not things
There are many people who enjoy doing the things they love just because they enjoy doing them. Many people have turned their hobbies into careers.
Now don’t twist my arm. I’m all for a good side job. But there’s something unique about doing something that makes you happy every day and doing it even if you never earn any money for it.
What are your favorite indoor activities? Maybe it’s making pottery, learning a foreign language, or collecting travel brochures in one place. This list contains some ideas for indoor hobbies to get you started.
5. Turn mundane material purchases into experiences!
Sometimes all it takes is a mental shift to view some of your content purchases as fun adventures.
For example, take a personal finance book. It may be a furniture item that sits on your bookshelves and is ignored along with other possessions. It can be a rewarding experience that offers you the tools and resources you need for total transformation. It all comes down to how you look at it.
The same is true with your morning cup of coffee or a good book. These items are at their peak value when they are being consumed. But if they become an enjoyable early morning tradition where you savor the first few sips of coffee, then spend 15 minutes writing about and reminiscing about all the things you are thankful for, these mornings can turn into happy past times.
6. Say yes to more experiences — even if you’re not sure you’ll enjoy them
Even if you aren’t sure you’ll enjoy it, you should accept an invitation if you have the money to afford it.
Let’s say you agree to a weekend camping trip with friends. You’re not a big fan of dirt, mud, and having-to-PEE-behind-a-bush-outdoors, but you do reluctantly agree.
It rains, you get a bad night’s sleep, you hate peeing in the woods, and so on – but the experience will be viewed with rosy-colored glasses in hindsight.
As you stick to your favorite features, the negative feelings left in your mind will fade away. The satisfaction of cultivating closer relationships with friends and loved ones and accomplishing a challenging hike that you didn’t think you were capable of provides an excellent method for collecting memories that do not yet qualify as things.
7. Get out of your comfort zone to collect memories not things
A recent study found that experiencing new and strange things leads to greater happiness. The hippocampus and striatum, two areas of the brain involved in processing novelty and reward, are activated by these experiences.
What better way to explore new experiences than to stretch outside of your comfort zone and try something new? It could be something like this fun activity such as learning a TikTok dance routine or learning how to cross-stitch. Or, it could be important like negotiating a pay raise.
Not sure how to proceed? Try any one of 35 comfort zone activities.
Live your best life and collect moments not things!
It can be difficult to obtain experiences rather than objects when your rational self regards such an accomplishment as finished at once. Is your ticket to a concert worth only $200, or would you prefer a $200 purse you can keep forever? Your gut instinct will steer you toward the purse. That’s because it is difficult to see the long-term value of a moment on your overall happiness.
As you travel through the day, I urge you to be on the lookout for chances to collect experiences rather than things. Instead of focusing on the expense associated with an experience, consider the array of emotions it elicits.