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.
How happy were you? How often do you feel that happy?
Do you need a plan to Experience Your Life and be happier?
Certainly, you do. Don’t let life just pass by without living it up, having fun, or relaxing.
“Spend your hard-earned money on experiences instead of possessions and you will be happier!”
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My own happy 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 the faces of 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. Your identity is made up of an accumulation of everything you’ve seen, the things you’ve done, and the places you’ve been.
But we are not who we are because of the kind of car we drive or our big homes.
We are the sum total of our experiences”- Thomas Gilovich
How Do We Know Buying Life Experiences Lead 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 bring us joy if they listen
How Does Money Buy Happiness?
Spending your money on things like travel, going out for dinner, going to a concert
I’m quite sure this belief comes from decades of being told to save as much money as possible and also, deprivation was believed to be virtuous– Yuk.
With this in mind, deciding now to spend my money on experiences instead of possessions without feeling guilty was a leap.
My new advice- Definitely, invest in yourself.
You won’t be surprised to learn there are THREE PROVEN 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.
Let me ask you, are you sitting there thinking about making plans in the far future or when you reach a certain age?
THIS IS SOMEDAY!!
2. Anticipating Experiences Enhances Happiness
Think of the last time you planned a vacation or even a weekend get-away. Do you remember the feeling of counting down the days until you got to leave?
Did you feel happy just thinking about your trip?
Well, another reason planning your experiences is so important is you have time to get excited about your plans before they happen!
Think about it, 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.
At holiday time I have a well- deserved reputation for spending too much and buying too many presents for family.
It gives me joy to see the tree stuffed with wrapped gifts.
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.
I scoffed at the idea for years and then I finally understood what he was trying to tell me.
It’s pretty anticlimactic when the gifts are opened and the returns and exchanges begin.
So now finally, I am taking his idea seriously and am on board!
Here is a fact you mull around for a while.
Do you know 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
Social Connections Bring Happiness!
That means spending time with other people makes you happy!
I would argue it depends on who the people are, but that’s not the point here.
Usually, when you spend your money on experiences, it also involves spending time with friends and family or meeting new people.
One thing experts all agree on, social experiences make you happier and healthier.
So when we get together as a family and stream years of photos bringing back memories on our TV, do you think we talk about the car we were driving at the time or the fun we had?
Of course, having the kids make fun of my hair-do or the clothes I am wearing in the photos makes us all laugh and makes the experience even more fun.
I wanted to help get you started right now planning your own Life Experiences, so I created an Experience Your Life Planner.
The value is great- it’s free!
- Just for You
- Together with Two or a Few
- Learning Something New
- Give Experience Gifts
In the interest of space, here is a short description of experiences from each of the five categories,
but actually in the planner there 100 experience ideas in all!
1. 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 makes us happier.
Stop saying, “Yes, I know all of that and someday I will”.
Well hopefully you will be lucky enough to get to “someday”, and when you get there, you are able to recognize it.
Someday doesn’t mean retirement, SOMEDAY IS TODAY!
Take that trip now, no matter what your age.
2. 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.
When you plan experiences for yourself, you are simply planning for things that make you the happiest, and that sounds pretty wonderful if you ask me. How 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
3. Learn Something New
The More You Learn the More Empowered You Become-Unknown
LEARNING CHANGES YOU and WHAT YOU LEARN IS YOURS TO KEEP
If you consider yourself a life-long learner, this is for you.
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?
4. 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 dance
- Go to New York City and take in a Broadway Show
Memories of experiences tend to grow richer over time.
5. 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 feel 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.
To learn more about happiness, you may find Are You Happy Are You Sure?
Finally, please leave your advice in the comments below- I love hearing from you.
Gilbert & Wilson (2000). ”Miswanting: Some problems in the forecasting of future affective states.” In Thinking and feeling: The role of