I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes me happy. Not just ecstatically happy and excited, but what keeps me and the ones I love in an almost constant state of blissful – often underrated – contentment.
A cup of tea is certainly somewhere at the top of my list, but after that, it is all about experiences. Time with my family, having ridiculous giggle fits with my friends, and seeing or learning something new that makes me feel accomplished, confident and empowered.
This mindset of experience overaccumulation is something more and more of us are embracing. In fact, the approach was best summed up by novelist and lyricist Paulo Coelho, who urged us to “Collect moments. Not things”.
Keeping up with all the newest and coolest trends is an expensive habit, and it puts a lot of pressure on us, both mentally – in our eternal pursuit for more – and financially. Think about what really, truly makes you happy…things? Or moments?
A New Way of Thinking
Even those who have the means to buy everything their heart desires are taking a leaf out of Coelho’s book. The world’s most affluent sets are opting for exclusive experiences over hoarding prized possessions, and they are better off for it.
For example, one of the most practical of purchases – which were once upon a time seen as status symbols – are changing in nature. Instead of collecting multiple homes in cities across the world, people are finding new ways to enjoy the lifestyle they’re accustomed to without tying themselves down physically and financially.
A quick look at the emerging and rapidly growing fractional ownership market (if you’re not sure what that is, London Fractions do a great job of explaining it) will give you an idea of how keen and willing people are to find new ways of living their best life without having to collect “things”.
Signs Of The Changing Times
A world waking up to experiences…
In any given city, you will find families enjoying days out at theatres and museums, engaging with each other while embracing new and enriching experiences. The emphasis is shifting from buying to do, and it is a beautiful thing to see.
Instead of working overtime to pay for overpriced toys that keep their kids happy, parents are spending quality time and making great memories. Households are adopting new ways of living; they’re unplugged, heading outdoors and taking it back to basics. Children are learning real skills like cooking, growing vegetables and helping with DIY.
Friends meet for brunch at cat cafes and early morning yoga classes, instead of expensive and stressful all day shop-a-thons (disclaimer: shop-a-thons do still, and will continue to happen, even if on a less frequent basis). This is great news. All “things” have an expiration date, especially mass-produced and over-marketed things. They don’t last forever, but memories and moments do.
Old schools of thought are getting a new lease on life…
The art of collecting moments, not things, is not a new one. Nor is it limited to a small pool of people. Make no mistake that this is a movement, and it is drawing on years of experience.
A hugely popular concept in recent years has been Hygge; a Danish word and lifestyle approach that encapsulates the beauty in simplicity and the importance of a moment. It prioritises a comfortable, cosy home that allows you to live life without getting hung up on all the hype that surrounds materialism and consumerism.
Similarly, popular concepts include what I like to call millennial minimalism, where people of all ages and backgrounds are embracing the less is more attitude, directing their energies towards enriching life with experiences instead of items.
There has even been significant research done on the basis that experiences make us happier than possessions. Click here to see a straightforward discussion about how and why science backs up this argument, or if you have a bit more time and a large cuppa, see CNN’s recap of a 2009 study here.
How to start collecting moments…
Some people trade their shopping lists for ‘bucket lists’, while others throw themselves into new courses or world travel. Ultimately, however you choose to embrace the importance of experience, be sure to try new things and be brave.
If you’d rather keep things simple and ease yourself in, try introducing a set time every day where the whole family unplugs. Use these few hours to learn something new together or do things you enjoy. Go for a nature walk or try a new recipe and cook a family dinner together.
And always remember…
Collect moments. Not things. ~ Paulo Coelho
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