Want to be happy?  Prioritize experiences over things. 

Silhouette of happy people jumping

Try to remember where you were on this day in 2015. You probably can’t. Now think about the view from the best hotel you ever stayed in. Or maybe the cabin where you and your friends slept at camp, the best beer you ever shared with a friend or that time you volunteered on a build, a dig, or an event. These things are easier to recall because memories of life’s experiences have a way of staying put. They remind us where we’ve been. Over time, they tell a story about our priorities and how we chose to live.

There’s a vast amount of research suggesting why we take greater pleasure in experiences than we do in the accumulation of stuff. It goes back decades and boils down to these three things: 

Experiences define us 

Great experiences have no shelf life. The best ones are stories you’ll tell your grandkids. By comparison, the new-car-smell of a gadget or a device doesn’t last long at all. Over time, the sum of our memories helps to shape our identity as we see more of the world and encounter a wider sample of life. An old financial adage goes like this, “Tell me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what your priorities are.” An updated take on that line might be, “Show me how you spend your time and I’ll show you where your passion lies.”    

Experiences unite us

Shiny objects are nice to look at but the unforgettable moments occur when we share experiences with others. Volunteering, coaching, and mentoring are all ways to meet people, make a difference, and build memories. And, once-in-a-life trips or a weekend at a cottage with friends and family can create lifetime memories that bond you forever.

Experiences bring unmatched joy

In these times of “extreme everything”; having the latest, owning the greatest, or keeping up with the most successful people is almost impossible. For every nice watch, there is a more expensive watch. For every nice sailboat, there is one just a foot longer. By comparison, there is no measuring the fun of an impromptu get-together of old friends and sharing a full-on belly laughs. When we share joy, we all win.  

Quite simply, the emotional wealth of shared positive experiences is far more valuable than any one thing you might buy or own.  

Budget for experiences, not things

We can’t guarantee that a meeting with your Lawyers Financial Advisor will be a lifetime top-ten moment, but perhaps we can help you plan for and fund your bucket list of experiences. 


August 26, 2019