There was an article in Forbes back in August of 2016 discussing a study pitting spending money on experiences over things. From the article:
A 20-year study conducted by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, reached a powerful and straightforward conclusion: Don’t spend your money on things. The trouble with things is that the happiness they provide fades quickly.
This article more-or-less preaches to the Andy choir. I have lived at both ends of the spectrum. My early adulting period I numbed my loneliness and overall unhappiness through retail therapy. Once I acquired the travel bug, my possessions began to shrink to a point where I would not say I became minimalist, but at least to a point where my physical purchases are more tied to necessities than temporary appeasements. I would have no qualms about grabbing my laptop, my phone, my camera, and simply abandoning everything else I have. It’s just stuff. I’ve lost emotional attachment to pretty much anything I own. I’ve learned that I don’t need a trinket to remind me of something I did or someone I care about (people can argue this with me once dementia sets in when I’m into my 80s).
The study further explains that our purchases foster comparisons. What isn’t mentioned in the Forbes take on the study is what often accompanies the comparisons. How often is it that we talk to people about our purchases? In a demonstration of some sort of buyer braggadocio, we comment on the product, how much we paid for it, how awesome it is, and how much its improved lives. What we buy becomes some sort of weird point of pride. Using myself as an example, when I purchased my LG G5 as a replacement for my iPhone 6, I spewed fourth details of the phone, the price point, how much I saved, and all the extras I got with it. I know this is not something that is unique to me, as I have heard it from many, many folk as well. This ridiculously placed pride generates talking points, which brings me to my next one.
Think about your best experiences. These usually carry several memories, stories and anecdotes that will have likely come up again several times over your life. I have had my new phone since December, and now that I am four months in I don’t talk about it anymore. Part of the joys of our lives comes from discussing and sharing out experiences with others, and the things you buy certainly have a limited shelf life.
Why does experiences have to end with vacations and activities, though? My life and career has taken me living in suburban Ontario, to Toronto and the GTA, China, and Vancouver Island. From my standpoint, living a life of experiences has been far more influential to my character and wisdom (stop laughing) than buying things ever has. More, I think my grandiose movements have shown to me who my true friends are, which is something I’ll treasure far more than anything else.