Welcome to the middle path
- Jana Svoboda, LCSW
- Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Resolution #20: More Experiences, Less Stuff
Research on this one is clear. You want to be more happy? Focus on getting more experiences, not more stuff.
Study after study finds that material gains, whether it be a bigger house, a new car, or those great shoes, lend only very temporarily gains in personal happiness. While buying stuff gives us a rush, that little hit of dopamine is pretty short-lived, and we quickly return to our baseline of happiness-- and some get caught in the addiction of trying to repeat the quickly passing thrill. Trust me or look it up-- there's plenty of research to support the idea that what matters to us is what we did and who we did it with, not what we got. Or think it about it yourself. Are your most cherished memories about getting that big screen TV? Often as not, they are times you spent (especially in new situations, such as a vacation) with people you loved.
Today's resolution: plan some time to have an experience. It doesn't have to be grand or expensive, just interesting and unusual, or with someone whose company you love. One of my favorite birthdays was going to check out the 3D museum in Portland. We'd planned to see the Velvet Painting museum as well, but it had closed. Still, it was such a quirky, wonderful day that I'll remember it much longer than the presents I received. I'd wanted to go to this little hole in the wall place for years and never had. Not long after, I wrote a list of a 100 things I'd enjoy doing within a few hours of home (or here). Visiting Crater Lake, fingerpainting for the first time since grade school, going on a photo scavenger hunt-- all sorts of experiences, big and small. Some I've crossed off, and some I look forward to. Make a similar list, and make time to cross a few off this month.
Interestingly, while getting more money or stuff doesn't improve happiness, giving it away does. More on that tomorrow.
Onward to Adventures, Tiny or Not!