Collect Memories Not Things
Do you remember your first mp3 player or the first phone that you bought? How do those items make you feel? Now, think of a Christmas with your family.
It probably isn’t the gifts you think of first; you probably think of the conversations, the laughter, and the board games. Lasting joy doesn’t come from objects, it comes from experiences.
Our brains are like living scrapbooks; they collect moments in time, frame them, and revisit them constantly. We can derive happiness from these memories years after they are made, and we can enjoy them in a way we can never enjoy material things.
Most of us can distinguish quite clearly the difference between the pleasure we get when our new iPhone arrives vs the happiness, we feel during a dream vacation to Italy.
We may feel excited during the days leading to a vacation, but we tend to feel impatient when waiting for an object. Usually, most of us lose interest in a new gadget relatively quickly, while we tend to cherish a memory.
In one study, researchers explored the relationship between happiness and memory and found that people draw upon past experiences for a sense of happiness and well-being.
The things on this list are experiences, not things. When we focus on pursuing experiences that we want to have, instead of things we want to buy, we are filling up our scrapbook with beautiful pictures and rich, funny stories.
Even more stressful events, once over, can make the most riveting and funny stories. Some of the happiest moments in our life aren’t the most exciting ones.
Here are several ideas to help you start collecting.
Make A Bucket List
We all have things that we secretly want to do. Making a list and sticking it up on your bulletin board will bring those experiences that much closer. Most of us give up on our more ambitious plans, believing them to be impossible or too expensive.
Have Some Small-Time Goals
Not all experiences need to be world-changing. Try doing something different every week or even every day. Choose a different way to get to work, or have some new people over every once in a while. Take a little time out of the day to experience life instead of becoming stuck in a mindless routine. You may be surprised how these little things can change your life.
Take Time for Family and Friends
Some of the best memories we have are with other people such as friends and family. Just a conversation with a dear friend may be enough to cheer you up and bring happiness back when you’re feeling down.
Be Open to New Things
Many of us are afraid to stray outside our comfort zones, which often keep us from experiencing many things in life and result in regret. Life is meant to be lived. It is said the best things in life are free. We have to remind ourselves that there are far more important things we should be saving our money for.
I would rather spend my hard-earned dollars on building up an extensive resume of wonderful life experiences and beautiful memories, than a collection of earthly belongings.
I ask, what is more important – a life full of amazing memories and special moments or a house full of things? The answer is simple. Amazing memories. We only have this one life. Just one opportunity to live life to the fullest and once our time on earth is up, all we take with us is our memories!