Why Great Memories are Worth Far More than Material Goods

by • December 12, 2014 • PsychologyComments (0)792

We humans are creatures of habit, going about our daily routines and working hard to earn our monthly pay checks. The more we earn, the more we tend to spend; but do we genuinely gain lasting pleasure from the things we buy?

Sure, it’s great to have the latest smartphone with all the new apps and gizmos it has, though once the initial novelty has worn off, we’re already looking to buy the newer, “smarter” version of the very same thing. Rinse and repeat the cycle continues, and quite often our snazzy new gadget will be out of date and heading for the trash within just a year, forgotten as if it never existed.
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Image Source: Expedia via Twitter
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There’s always an instant hit of gratification that comes with any purchase, but the level of satisfaction from buying material goods is so often fleeting. Indeed, a twenty-year study conducted by Cornell University has proven this to be the case and is highlighted by Lottoland’s infographic in more detail, indicating that investing in unforgettable experiences makes people far happier. In fact, as it highlights, even bad experiences are welcome by most, as they often make for funny stories.

Social creatures that we are, memories do matter more to people than things. Twenty years from now, can you imagine yourself telling friends and family about that smartphone you bought in 2017? Or are you more likely to be fondly sharing tales of a European vacation you enjoyed the same year? There’s certainly no doubt which would be the more entertaining topic of conversation, as you regale them with stories of your experiences.

When we look back over the material things we’ve bought over the years, one of the abiding memories is most often "how much cheaper they were back then" when we bought them, with prices always seeming to be on the rise. By comparison, that time we saw our favorite rock star in concert with friends, we rarely remember how much the tickets cost. What we remember is the amazing show and the great time we had with our buddies, sharing a priceless experience that we’ll always cherish in our memories.

Some will always say that when you purchase a thing, you’ve got something physical to show for your money. But after the initial satisfaction wears off, it’s just like any other normal thing you might have sitting around your household; and even your home is just another thing. More than ever these days, people are holding off on making big purchases like homes and cars, choosing to invest in experiences instead.
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One more case in point: Before finalizing their studies and embarking upon careers, more students are now opting to take gap years, placing greater importance on the pursuit of valuable experiences instead. Travel and adventures abroad are perhaps the most popular experience investments people are making, with the initial price considered irrelevant compared to the lasting value of the memories they bring. Each experience and memory we have is unique and incomparable, whether good or bad, because it’s always something we’ll remember for years to come.

Our entire lives are measured not by the things we own, but the variety of things we do or the people we meet, places we visit and explore; it’s these experiences that define us as people. Go on that vacation, have that night out with your friends, jet off to that country you always wanted to visit… Live life to the max and enjoy the value of your memories, because they’re worth far more than the next phone you were thinking of buying!
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