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Collect Moments, Not Things. You’ll Have No Regrets When You Get Old.

Collect Moments, Not Things. You’ll Have No Regrets When You Get Old.

Do you remember your first mp3 player, or that non-fat caramel latte you bought last week? How do those items make you feel? Now, think of a Christmas with your family. It probably isn’t the gifts you think of first; you probably think of the conversations, the laughter, and the board games. Lasting joy doesn’t come from objects, it comes from experiences. Our brains are like living scrapbooks; they collect moments in time, frame them, and revisit them constantly. We can derive happiness from these memories years after they are made, and we can enjoy them in a way we can never enjoy material things.

Seek Experiences And Collect Memories

Most of us can distinguish quite clearly the difference between the pleasure we get when our new iPhone arrives in the mail vs. the happiness we feel during a dream vacation to Italy. Whereas we may feel excited during the days leading to a vacation, we tend to feel impatient when waiting for an object. Where most of us lose interest in a new gadget or toy relatively quickly, we tend to cherish a memory.

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In one study, researchers explored the relationship between happiness and memory and found that people draw upon past experiences for a sense of happiness and well-being[1]. Another research article analyzed what people tend to regret in life; they discovered that in a descending order of importance, these were the most common regrets in life: education, career, romance, parenting, the self, and leisure[2]. Notice that nowhere in this list is, “not getting a yacht,” or “not buying a Coach purse.” The things on this list are experiences, not things. When we focus on pursuing experiences that we want to have, instead of things we want to buy, we are filling up our scrapbook with beautiful pictures and rich, funny stories. Even more stressful events, once over, can make the most riveting and funny stories.

So, in this society of materialism, how do we change our focus from consumerism, to the pursuit of experiences?[3] Most of us aren’t going to jump off the couch right after reading this and go skydiving, and that’s OK! Some of the happiest moments in our life aren’t the most exciting ones. Here are several ideas to help you start collecting.

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Make A Bucket List

We all have things that we secretly want to do. Making a list and sticking it up on your bulletin board will bring those experiences that much closer. Most of us give up on our more ambitious plans, believing them to be impossible or too expensive.

Keep An Adventure Jar

Keep a jar on your kitchen table. Every time you decide not to buy something you don’t really need, or decide not to eat out, put the money you would have spent on those things in the jar. Most of us don’t realize how much money we could save if we didn’t spent it on little, pointless things.

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Have Some Small-Time Goals

Not all experiences need to be world-changing. Try doing something differently every week or even every day. Choose a different way to get to work, or have some new people over every once in a while. Take a little time out of the day to experience life instead of becoming stuck in a mindless routine. You may be surprised how these little things can change your life.

Take Time For Family And Friends

Some of the best memories we have are with other people. Just a conversation with a dear friend may be enough to bring you happiness one day when you’re feeling down.

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Be Open To New Things

Many of us are afraid to stray outside our comfort zones, which will often keep us from experiencing many things in life and result in regret. Life is meant to be lived. Do new things, they’re how memories are made!

Reference

[1]Sociological Research Online: Happiness and Memory: Some Sociological Reflections
[2]US National Library of Medicine: What We Regret Most…and Why
[3]The Atlantic: Buy Experiences, Not Things

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Marina Richter

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

Why Helping Others Actually Helps Yourself

Why Helping Others Actually Helps Yourself

Helping others: it’s a fundamental part of humanity, bonding together and helping a fellow man or woman. In times of tragedy, the stories of those who help others are inspiring, such as helping the nation recover from national disasters and terrorist attacks. Some men and women even devote their lives to helping others, from the police force that protects our cities, to the fire departments who run into burning buildings, to the service men and women who risk their lives for the common good.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ― Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

But helping others isn’t limited to these grand gestures or times of tribulation. Helping others can be done each and every day. And contrary to what you may have heard, helping others doesn’t always have to be a selfless act. It’s important to understand that helping others can actually help yourself. No matter what the motivation, getting out and helping others is the key. So in that spirit of motivation, here are 5 reasons why helping others actually helps yourself.

1. Quid Pro Quo

When you help someone, they will be more likely to help you. This is the basic, unspoken agreement that fuels nearly every move. I’ll spend my entire day lugging boxes, but you owe me. It’s much easier to find help when someone knows you’d do the same for them. They may not always live up to their end of the bargin, and you may not either. But if you help enough people and do many good deeds, it will be given back when needed.

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2. Karma goes both ways.

All too often, the idea of Karma is described in a negative way. If you do bad, bad will come find you. But it works the other way too. When you are a good person and help people, good things seem to happen. And while you may not believe in an inter-connected universe that rewards good deeds, there is something to be said about how helping others changes your perspective. When you’re helping others, you will often feel better about yourself, increasing the likelihood that your next experience will be a positive one, rather than a negative one.

3. Doing good feels good.

It’s maybe the most cited benefit of doing good: you’ll feel great. Helping others is a great way to feel better about yourself. Seeing a smile or even tears of joy makes it all worth it. It’s as simple as that.

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4. Good publicity is the best publicity.

People notice when you’re doing good. It may not be the reason you help out, but someone is always watching. Even the simplest gesture can make an awesome impression.

When I was in college, I had a class that helped out at a school for a full day. I worked with a small group of high school students who were incredibly interested in writing, and I had a great time. I asked the teacher if I could come back on my own time and work with these students to finish this project we were working on, to which she agreed.

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I went two more times that week, thinking nothing more about it. Fast forward a few weeks: I received a letter in the mail stating I had been chosen as a Presidential Grant Recipient for the summer and received a $2,000 stipend to work with a group of students and professors on a research project over the summer. I was floored, as I hadn’t even applied. I was nominated by that teacher who appreciated the work I did with her students. It wasn’t expected, but helping others ended up opening a door I never would have known was even available.

5. Helping others looks good on a resume or application.

Is your resume looking a little thin? Does your college application need a bit of pizzaz? Volunteering your time and energy to help others makes your resume and applications look as good as it makes you feel. Hiring managers look favorably on volunteer work and many acceptance committees use it to separate similar candidates. So read to some first graders, volunteer at the homeless shelter, and volunteer at your local Boys and Girl Club. Your resume will thank you.

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Featured photo credit: xavi talleda via flickr.com

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