Do you need a plan to Experience Your Life? Certainly, you do. Don’t let life just pass by without living it up, having fun, or relaxing.
If you had to describe the happiest experience you have ever had, what would you say, specifically? Take a minute right now and think about it, maybe even close your eyes to relive that moment in detail.
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Yes, You Can Buy Happiness, Here’s How
My memories went back to warm summer nights in Minnesota sitting around a campfire with really close friends and our family. We were singing old favorite songs together and just plain having fun. I can smell the campfire, feel the breeze and see the stars in the sky. I can hear the harmony and happy voices singing, You Are My Sunshine. In my mind, I see their faces and our children singing as they are creating life-changing memories of their own.
Certainly, I could on, but I want you to spend a few more minutes thinking about your happy experience and please share it in the comment section below.
No amount of money can recreate the experiences that make you who you are. Our identity is made up of an accumulation of everything we’ve seen, the things we’ve done, and the places we’ve been, but not the kind of car we drive or our big homes.
We are the sum total of our experiences”- Thomas Gilovich
We must be listening because as a result, consumer spending on recreation, travel and eating out has been trending up for more than a decade, according to Kevin Logan, U.S. Chief economist for HSBC
How Do we Know Buying Experiences Leads to Happiness?
Over a decade of Psychology research clearly shows experiences bring people more happiness than do possessions. This is big news for everyone who has thought a bigger house or an expensive car was the way to show success.
How Does Money Buy Happiness?
Seems like money can buy happiness when you choose which experiences you are willing to spend your money on, hence buying yourself some happiness.
Spending money on things like travel, going out for dinner, going to a concert
With this in mind, make a decision now to spend your money on experiences instead of possessions without feeling guilty. Definitely, invest in yourself.
Let’s briefly take a look THREE reasons we should take time to Plan Our Best Life Experiences
1. You Can’t Buy Time
One thing is for sure, if you don’t plan for the experiences you want, time will go by and as a result, they will never happen, OR someone else will plan them for you.
In order to plan for my own life, I found myself thinking if I am going to focus on more experiences and put aside money and use precious time, what should I experience?
Certainly, I want the most bang for my buck, but I really value my time even more.
I talk about this a bit later, but I think it is worth saying twice. DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEDAY. THIS IS SOMEDAY!!
2. Anticipating Experiences Enhances Happiness
Another reason planning your experiences is so important is you have time to get excited about it before it happens! Studies also show the ANTICIPATION AND PLANNING of experiences add to our happiness.
This makes perfect sense. We have all experienced what it feels like to look
Additionally, the anticipation of receiving a new possession like a back-ordered iPhone doesn’t come close to the excitement of planning and anticipating a weekend at the lake. Consequently, when the weekend is over, you have lasting memories.
Our son-in-law has been asking for years for us all to take a family trip over the holidays instead of buying so many gifts, so now I am taking his idea seriously and am on board!
For this reason we should start planning and anticipating now!
To begin with, having an iPhone doesn’t result in long-term happiness
Finally, how long do material objects make us happy? Actually, researchers have determined it is only between six and 12 weeks!
3. EXPERIENCES BRING SOCIAL CONNECTION
Usually, when we spend our money on experiences, it also involves spending time with friends and family, or meeting new people. We know fo sure social experiences make us happier and healthier.
Sharing stories of your experiences with people will bring you closer together. While sharing what you recently purchased, not so much.
So when we get together as a family and stream photos from over the years, do you think we talk about the clothes we’re wearing? Well, maybe if I was wearing something really everyone considered hilarious.
The Life Experiences here are sorted into categories of:
- Just for You
- Together with Two or a Few
- Learning Something New
- Give Experience Gifts
Here is a short list of experiences for each of the five categories, but in the interest of space, there are actually 100 experience ideas in all.
Travel is the Ultimate Experience
Travel is always at the top of the list when you think about “best experiences”. I think it is because it bundles so many things that we know enhance our lives and make us happier.
I am going to give you some good advice here so listen up. While we all talk about what we will do “someday”. What in the world does that mean?
If you are lucky you get to “someday” and are able to recognize it when it comes. Someday doesn’t mean when you retire, SOMEDAY IS TODAY. Take that trip now, no matter what your age.
The bonus of a trip or vacation is it usually results in more experiences you didn’t plan or anticipate, but you’ll go home with new memories. Take trip to:
- Costa Rica
- New Zealand
Experiences Just For You
Spending time just for you can at first seem selfish or even boring. However, time alone is an opportunity to reflect on how you want to spend your time and live your life.
On the positive side, making time for yourself every day will enhance all other areas of your life. You are simply planning for things that make you the happiest, and that sounds pretty wonderful if you ask me. Think about:
- Getting a Massage
- Starting a Gratitude Journal
- Drink a very expensive bottle of wine
- Binge watch a new series on Netflix
- Watch the sunrise or watch it set
Learn Something New
The More You Learn the More Empowered You Become-Unknown
LEARNING CHANGES YOU.
If you consider yourself a life-long learner, wanting to learn something new will surely guide you in choosing how to spend your time.
Is there something you have ALWAYS wanted to do, but just haven’t? How about:
- Taking a writing course
- Learning to play an instrument
- Learn a new language
- Learn to play chess
- Maybe you want to dance or swim?
The thing about learning is, no one can take it away from you, it is yours to keep forever.
Experiences For Two or a Few
Telling you to plan for experiences with your family sounds crazy because it is so obvious, but you have to PLAN for time together every single day even if there are only two of you. Need a few ideas?
- Take a walk in the park together
- Go for dinner in at a special restaurant
- Plan a long weekend to an Airbnb
- Play some favorite music and ance
- Go to New York City and take in a Broadway Show
Memories of experiences tend to grow richer over time.
Give the Best Gifts- Give Experiences
Seriously, when you give someone an experience for a gift, you are going to even be happier than they are!. When someone receives an experience for a gift they fell more connected to the gift-giver even if they don’t share in the experience!
The same cannot be said for material gifts. So, a few ideas here include:
- Concert tickets
- Escape Room Adventures
- Dinner theater tickets
- A weekend getaway
- Cooking classes
How to Use Your Experience Planner
- First, download to print your planner or make a copy in Google Sheets for an electronic copy to keep on your desktop.
- Read through the list in each category and check off any idea that interests you
- There is space for you to write in experiences you KNOW you want on your list
- Rate or prioritize your choices and add a Goal Date.
- You can modify your planner and make changes anytime a new idea pops up
Experience your life!!
You can change your list anytime, but please don’t fill it out once and put it in a drawer or in a lost file on your computer.
How about hanging it up, or keep it on your desktop. Remember, even the anticipation of your experiences will make you feel good.
To learn more about happiness, you may find Are You Happy Are You Sure?, interesting.
Finally, please leave your advice in the comments below- we love hearing from you.
Gilbert & Wilson (2000). ”Miswanting: Some problems in the forecasting of future affective states.” In Thinking and feeling: The role of