Focus on Life Experiences Not “Things”

family of four sunset

How is that in modern life we have more – but we are more miserable? Everything is bigger, better and more readily available and yet overall happiness continues its downwards spiral. How can we have come so far, only to find ourselves feeling so empty?

I have a theory that answers all of these questions and it is quite simple. People nowadays focus more on obtaining possessions then they do life experiences.

These people live in a work-spend-work state of mind, where their driving forces and motivation for doing anything is simply obtaining or buying new things.

You know that feeling right? When you buy something new, it feels great for awhile. It’s all new and exciting and then the feeling wears off…… it becomes old, 37 other people have the same thing, then you find yourself wanting to get rid of it, only to buy the next best thing and the cycle continues.

Even though you really wanted that thing for a long time, when the time came that you actually got it, you probably didn’t even celebrate at all. There was no accomplishment, no nothing, just empty feelings…. so this is what I’ve been working so long and hard for?

“Things” are sometimes needed in your life. You do need a car, you need new clothes, you may even think you need a new big screen T.V. I’m not trying to say you need to live without buying anything to be happy. I’m saying you should not make these things your goals or reasons to be happy.

The reason is simple. “Things” break, things get old, things wear out (or get thrown out!) and things get lost. Other people can also have the same things as you, so they are not unique or special to you.

I want you to consider what an experience is – an experience is something only you can have. It is your experience and even if two people do the exact same thing, their experiences will be different – completely different.

Case in point, if you and I go to Paris, we will have our own unique experiences. Anytime you recall your experiences in Paris, you will feel a surge of fantastic memories from your time in Paris. Those memories will never fade, they will stay with you for a lifetime. Now think about a thing you bought 6 months ago and see if you have the same feelings…

Right now, think of times when you did something amazing. Maybe it was from your childhood, I bet when you think about it right now, you will begin to feel good feelings. Even if this happened a long time ago, after all of this time, it still feels great just thinking about it.

Think of those parents who hardly spend any time with their kids when they are growing up. Sure, they care about them a lot and they buy lots of things to show their love but they don’t spend any quality time with them at all – they don’t share any experiences together. Then these people wonder why they are not closer to their kids as they grow up.

It took me a long time to realize this but the reason I am so close to my family and my parents is because we used to do a lot of things together when we were younger. We would go to the park all the time, we went to other cities together, we would go for a 2 week camping trip every year, our parents would always come and watch us play sport and cheer for us. These are all experiences that we remember and have shaped us into who we are today.

If you start to focus on getting new experiences or SHARING experiences in life as your driving force for doing whatever it is that you do, you will get a new lease on life.

Go to new places, expand your horizons, learn something new, do something you have always wanted to do, spend more time with friends, family and/or kids.

Don’t be motivated by money, or getting new things.  Be motivated to experience life. For when your time finally comes, these experiences will be the “things” that matter most to you.

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21 Responses to Focus on Life Experiences Not “Things”

  1. Thank you Greg for sharing your insights into this topic. “Experiencing” life is one of the most important things we can do. It is unique to human beings, and one which we should all embrace.

    Material things last for a short time – experiences for a lifetime. We are proud to have been a small part of some of your life experiences.

  2. Val Wilcox says:

    Brenda,
    Awesome post about how important experiences in life are! Possessions are not what life is about at all. We are here to share with others, not acquire things.

    I’ve always liked the line from Me & Bobby Mcgee – Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…
    Val :)

    • Val, I couldn’t agree more.

      I was thrilled when I read Greg’s post about his ideas on life experiences versus possessions. I especially loved his ideas on spending time with people you care about versus buying things.

      Thanks for your thoughts – I think I will have Me & Bobby McGee going around in my head for the rest of the day :)

  3. You’re so right on with this post! It’s not the things we think about but the memories and experiences that stay with us. This is why things get old fast because what’s new becomes old quickly. But an experience- whether a vacation or just a day with a special friend – that’s priceless! As I get older (maybe it’s wisdom :)) but I’ve become more of a minimalist rather than a materialist.

    Janette

  4. Hi Brenda, I totally agree with you on this one. I find that if you put a price on something you want aka “the millionaire mindset” things will slowly come to you because you have a number involved. This energy is much weaker than the FEELING involved when you want something. The feeling has nothing to do with numbers or amounts, but rather the feeling of having a new home, the feeling of being close to friends and family, and finally the feeling of success! I so enjoyed this post. Thanks so much for your enlightenment,
    Donna

    • Thank you Donna, although I can’t take credit for this one :). My son wrote this article. It is something he believes in strongly, and it fits perfectly with the theme of this site.

      By the reaction from this article, I can see I will need to ask him to continue with some posts on a regular basis. Thank you for your comments

  5. Sherri Frost says:

    Greg, you are so right! I find that as I grow older I realize that experiences are so much more important than possessions. My son shunned materialism with a vengeance but I pointed out to him that money and possessions do serve the purpose of living more comfortably. It also affords you the opportunity to enjoy more experiences, live in a safe neighborhood, drive a car that doesn’t break down etc. It’s when we use money and possessions to create our identity and feed our egos that problems arise.

    • Thanks for your comments Sherri. Money does serve a great purpose in life when used wisely, and as you mentioned it becomes a problem when you use money to buy possessions to create our identity and fuel our egos.

      There is certainly nothing wrong with having and aiming to have possessions. However, as a parent, it was wonderful to know that our children, as they have grown into adults treasured the times we spent together as a family far more than any gadgets that they were given

  6. Just wonderful. It is about experience and memories. For myself my hubby and me decided to take a trip to London. Yes, we could use the money for the house, etc. but we decided we wanted the memories instead. We are really looking forward to this trip and will enjoy every minute of it.
    Thanks for the great article.
    Debbie

    • Brenda says:

      Thanks Debbie for you comments. I personally believe that you can have both – fantastic memories and possessions. Having things is not bad. It only becomes a problem if we think “things” can replace people and memories.

      Have a wonderful trip to London. Please share your memories when you return :)

  7. Sue Mitchell says:

    Totally with you on this. When I was dating my husband, for my first birthday with him, he made me a giant homemade coupon that said, “UOU 1 Life Experience–Redeemable and Reusable Any Time.” I had mentioned to him that I didn’t care about stuff but just wanted to do interesting things, so he made me that. I still have it on my office wall. I’m looking at it right now!

    I tell my 7-year-old son all the time, “Friends are the best toys,” and remarkably, he’s starting to get it. He has stopped immediately spending his allowance on toys and is starting to talk about how if he has someone to play with, it doesn’t really matter what they do. It’s just having an experience together that feels good. If I have done nothing else for him as a parent, I feel really great about instilling that!!

    For people interested in this topic, I highly recommend Vicki Robin’s and Joe Dominguez’s Your Money or Your Life.

    • That is such a precious gift your husband made you, and it looks like your 7 year old son will follow in the special path.

      I have no problem with wanting and aiming for “things” as long as they don’t take the place of people and experiences.

      Thanks for the book recommendation – I’ll check it out myself.

  8. Robert says:

    I thought that things were very important to me until a family member got sick. Then I realised my priorities. Good reminder with this article

  9. Venessa says:

    Hi! I just found your great blog with Yahoo and i love it! Can’t stop reading them. Can’t wait till your next one

  10. Kurt says:

    Thanks for the reminder – I have been guilty of focusing too much on things just what I needed to read now

  11. Isaiah says:

    Outstanding job done once again. Keep up the good work!

  12. Noele says:

    Great job with this post. Keep up the thought provoking ideas that push my buttons into action.

  13. Frederico says:

    Hi! I want to give you a big thumbs up for the
    excellent info you have right here on this post.

  14. Muriel says:

    Love my life experiences

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