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10 Reasons Experiences are Better Than Things

As a young adult striving to be happier every day, one thing I’ve learned is that experiences are better than things. Don’t get me wrong—I love fine jewelry, designer bags, and expensive cars—but those things never provide me with long-term happiness.

Travel is one of my favorite experiences to enjoy. In fact, I’m writing this post from my hotel bed in LA. I flew out here to Hollywood for an electronic music event. It’s about 4 a.m., and I haven’t slept because I’m jet lagged. Even so, I’m happy as can be! I’m back in my favorite state in the USA, and I’m about to have an unforgettable weekend.

I’ve realized that one good trip can make me happier than a hundred Louis Vuitton bags. As I’ve grown older, my perception of wealth and success has changed. To me, happiness is wealth. In my last moments of life, I doubt I’ll be thinking about my bank account. I’ll be remembering all the amazing things I did in my life, the places I went, and the people I met along the way. I’ll be thinking about the paramount moments in my life and the experiences I shared with my friends and family.

I’m not saying to stop enjoying the material things you have. I’m saying you should not expect material things to make you happy, and you should seek happiness in moments and experiences. Keep reading to find out why.

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Here are 10 reasons experiences are better than things:

1. Material things only provide temporary happiness.

Whenever I receive a nice gift, I always feel a rush of joy in the moment. One of my previous boyfriends bought me a Tiffany necklace for Christmas, and I loved getting that little blue box. I was so grateful for it. I enjoy giving and receiving material gifts, but it’s the thoughtfulness and love behind the gift that means the most to me, not the price tag. The initial rush of joy will fade. The newness of the item will fade. If a material item does not have sentimental value, my post-purchase happiness will not last.

2. Experiences provide lasting joy.

Looking at old travel photos makes me smile. I love remembering the miniscule details of the places I visited and laughing at little inside jokes or funny things that happened. To me, memories are invaluable, and they provide me with a level of happiness that material things can’t compete with.

3. Material things aren’t as interesting to talk about.

Let’s be real. When you’re socializing with other people, will they be more interested in hearing about your trip to New Zealand or the purse you got from the latest Gucci collection?

Maybe fashionistas will be impressed by your designer accessories, but that’s because they are passionate about style. Most people will not care about your Gucci attire, and they may not even think it looks expensive in the first place if they aren’t up-to-date with the latest trends in fashion. (Sorry, Gucci!)

So, if you’re looking for a conversation starter, talk about an experience that changed your life, not about your latest impulsive designer purchase.

4. Experiences help you become more well-rounded.

I’ve become more open-minded and educated because of my travels. I didn’t realize how much of a “bubble” I was in until I ventured outside of it.

I grew up in a small town in Florida, and I spent 18 years of my life there. I love my hometown, but when I moved to the city and went on a couple of international trips, I realized how sheltered I had been.

It’s a big world, and it’s important to realize that you need to travel and try new things if you want to experience all of it. You can’t learn everything by sitting in classrooms or reading books. Experiences bring value to your life that you can’t get anywhere else.

5. Material things can cause major clutter.

Hundreds of bags, shoes, and gadgets will clutter your space and stress you out. Material things must be cleaned, organized, managed, and maintained. They take up time and space in our lives. When you declutter your life, your mental health will improve. One way to start is by investing in just a few material goods and getting rid of everything extraneous.

6. Experiences promote mindfulness and a sense of fulfillment.

I don’t know about you, but experiences are way more fulfilling for me than shopping. When I’m exploring a new place or trying a new activity, I feel a sense of wellbeing and contentment with my life. Openness to new experiences is a byproduct of mindful living. Mindful people prioritize simplicity, and they value moments more than things.

7. Material things can perpetuate an unhealthy “comparison game.”

Apple loves capitalizing on this “comparison game” people play with their material possessions. The tech powerhouse releases a new iPhone almost every year. That means that, even if you just got a new phone, it’s old news nine months later. People are obsessed with having the latest and greatest, especially when it comes to their gadgets.

In reality, there’s not too much difference between the iPhone X, iPhone XR, and iPhone 11. They are all high-performance smartphones that have random features that seem cool at first, but aren’t useful in day-to-day life. So, what is the point in caring about what kind of iPhone you have, or the fact that your best friend has a “nicer” phone than you just because it’s newer?

The “comparison game” is silly, and it’s one of the vices of 21st century Western culture, in my opinion.

8. Experiences are social.

When you go on a trip or take a class, you get to meet tons of new people!

I flew out to LA by myself this weekend. Traveling alone might seem scary at first, but I’ve met great friends on my solo adventures. Actually, solo travel can be far more social than traveling with your friends because you have opportunities to strike up conversations with people you wouldn’t normally talk to.

Buying a Rolex is not a social experience, unless you join a Rolex appreciation club, of course. 🙂

9. Material things are perishable.

Even the nicest purses don’t look new forever. On the other hand, your memories will last a lifetime, especially if you choose to tell your stories through photography, writing, or art. In 30 years, your purse won’t be in great shape, assuming you didn’t leave it on the closet shelf every day. However, you’ll be surprised at the things you remember. More than likely, the important memories will seem clear as day in your mind.

10. Experiences evoke moments that you will cherish forever.

The happiest people in the world value experiences more than things. So, skip the Gucci bag. It’s time to book a flight!

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to pin it to your favorite travel board on Pinterest.

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  1. Christine says:

    I love this and so agree! Experiences can change us, give us a new perspective, help us grow, etc! I don’t even think it has to be a big experience either, just being intentional in how we spend our time. Great post, Samantha!

  2. Amanda says:

    Love all of these! But especially the clutter! I can’t handle clutter (Even though I currently live in it as a twin mama! haha)
    For Christmas this year, we did a lot of experience gifts vs material gifts! Everyone loved it!

  3. Jen says:

    I love this! I am trying to make our kids life as well rounded as possible, and experiences are definitely a component of that. Thanks for sharing all this great wisdom!

  4. Rachel says:

    I love this and agree 100%! My husband and I are super intentional about saving for experiences. I’d rather see the world with my best friend by my side than receive some piece of jewelry that I’ll only wear a handful of times! So important to be on the same page about it with your S/O!

  5. I loved #4 and #8! I’ve always believed that experiences make you a stronger and more resilient person. Well rounded is a great way to put it! And the social aspect is awesome. So many people are craving community these days and a good laugh with a friend is always better than buying a new pair of shoes – unless they’re leopard print!

  6. Kathy says:

    Love this post and you are 100% right! We went on a whitewater camping trip when our kids were 10 and 14, which was over 15 years ago and my kids still talk about it at least several times a year. I love to travel, I think it’s the unknown adventure that I live for.

  7. Adriane says:

    I love all of your points so much! Experiences truly shape our brains and who we are and become. It’s so important to remember all of these things when it comes to raising kiddos too! They don’t need the latest toy or gadget (or louis vitton bag, if they’re a teen girl????) but instead, they need TIME doing things together.

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