“We can’t put a monetary value on experiences, because they’re priceless.” – GSB
We’ve already talked about the ways in which travel can make you smarter. This time I want to talk more about how I value empiricism, and how buying into experiences, as opposed to physical things, will give you a long and happy life. And we have the science to back up that claim. Falling into routine can substantially hurt not only your emotional state of mind, but it also greatly limits the minds potential to be happy. Don’t let it happen to you! We all could use a new travel experience.
Money is Necessary — to a Point
Money is a bare necessity. We need some degree of income to live our day to day lives, but money shouldn’t be looked at as the end all be all. New research is finding that while money can increase your level of contentment, this content feeling eventually hits a ceiling once your day to day needs are met.
Think about it. You hit the lotto, took some investment risks and now you’re sitting in a 15 million dollar mansion with an Olympic size swimming pool. After a couple of years at that pool, I guarantee you’re going to want a different swimming pool. Or one with a water slide. Or a volleyball court.
The point is, while spending money on physical items give us the safe feeling of permanence and longevity, it’s not the route to happiness. That’s because we as humans adapt to our surroundings. As this study done by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a professor at Cornell University points out – material items that are ever present, as awesome as they may be, will ultimately become the new normal. They become part of our daily routine and appear commonplace. The human mind craves more.
Ever stop to think about why we change the look of our clothes everyday? Why don’t we buy multiples of the same outfit? Why do we feel the need to eat different foods, when one all-encompassing healthy meal could sustain us for breakfast, lunch and dinner? This quirk in human evolution differentiates us from every other animal species on the planet. We’ve evolved to be adventurous, to want “more,” to change our perspective.
So what can give you more?
We can travel. Or at the very least, we can break out of our comfort zone and try something new locally if we don’t have the means to travel. Don’t become a victim of adaptation.
“But I can’t afford to travel and I don’t have the time!” Bullshit. I hear this all the time after years of working with folks in and around the travel industry. There are plenty of avenues to explore that will allow you to travel. Between the hundreds of airline and hotel loyalty programs, credit card signups and travel deals out there – trust me, you can travel. You just need to know how to access these means effectively. You can glean a little bit about the concept of travel hacking in this post.
Spend Money on Experiences
One of my favorite quotes, that unfortunately I haven’t been able to trace to the original author, is: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” We can’t put a monetary value on experiences, because they’re priceless.
At the end of the day, our experiences ultimately define us. At least who we are as people. Sure, you can flaunt the car you drive and the watch you wear, but those are just expressions of perceived status. While these are completely relevant in today’s society as a whole, physical items hold little value over experience.
These ‘things’ are not you. Your experiences are what make you who you are. If you were to lose everything you owned, you’d still always have your experiences. You’ll always be able to tell stories about the time you hiked near the arctic circle, or the time you dove “The Wall” in the Cayman Islands. It’s this concept that proves that travel makes you richer. You’ll never lose your experiences.
Even TALKING about your experiences, over your material items, will make you a happier person. The only way to have more experiences to talk about, is to get out there and experience more people and places.
There’s no reason why you can’t make the decision right now, to become a happier person. Your decision to do so will also positively influence those around you to do the same, thus making the world a better place. All because you decided to deviate from the norm. (Tip of the hat to Rush…)