Experiences and Happiness

I wanted to share an article I recently read that really gelled with me.

In “The Science of Why You Should Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things,” Jay Cassano writes on how experiences, such as going to museums or taking a vacation to another country, make us happier than tangible products. While this logic seems backwards at first glance, it makes a lot of sense when you think about it in terms of your own experiences.  Casssano quotes Dr. Thomas Gilovich as saying:

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

It’s somewhat ironic that I encountered this article when I did. Just the night before, Alex and I were talking about a trip we wanted to take in a few years. Also, I’ve become so bored with my surroundings and my mundane lifestyle that I’m slipping deeper back into my depressive tendencies. I’m overcome with the feeling that I need to do something, go somewhere, see something new, and soon. This is a pretty universal feeling, despite the fact that, as Cassano points out, American society doesn’t really allow for an experience-filled life (unless you’re rich or don’t work full-time). Most of the jobs I’ve had require full availability. I’m sure if I tried to take a month off to travel I’d get laughed at and fired.

This article also made me think about how experiences impact writing. Whether they want to admit it or not, most, if not all, writers incorporate their personal views and experiences into their work. If they didn’t, their work wouldn’t be unique or interesting. But then there’s the entire genre of narrative nonfiction that relies entirely on the author’s experiences to give it life. Right now, I feel as though my life has no life to it. How, then, am I supposed to bring life to my writing?

I want to have a story worth telling.


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