February 19, 2016

Material Possessions vs. Experiences

Departure. You don’t really feel the emotions of leaving a place that has been your home until about 4 days before the date of departure. Everyone talks about it long before that phase like they are sad and sentimental, but you don’t really feel it until it’s right upon you.

Starting yesterday, I’ve begun to feel it. All the emotions slowly building up, in addition to the fact that you are physically also preparing yourself, packing, and going through all of your belongings, things that you haven’t touched in years. You want to take everything that reminds you of your past, but you realize that they aren’t really of any use in college. They will just take up space.

Experiences however, are the things that will be kept with you no matter where you go. They will always be in your memories, unless you have amnesia of course. My mom once told me that she never buys souvenirs because after a while they don’t mean anything and they just take up space. Instead when we travel, she splurges on whatever food she can get her hands on. I agreed with her, but thought that maybe some possessions can also bring you happiness.

I was wrong.

Experiences > possessions. Period. This isn’t just something I came up with. There’s actually been lots of research and studies done on what leaves behind the most happiness.

• Buy Experiences, Not Things @ The Atlantic 
• Want To Buy Happiness? Purchase An Experience. @ Forbes
 • People Who Spend Money On Experiences Instead Of Things Are Much Happier @ Elite Daily
 • The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things @ Fast Company

• tl;dr The happiness that you derive from purchasing a possession fades drastically over time.
 Experiences, however stay in your memories and can even affect you as a person.


• In fact, even bad experiences make a good story. (Shoutout to A.C.)

Above are just some articles that I came across. There are many more supporting this point. So in the future, instead of buying some luxurious watch or car, I’m going to invite my friends to some resort in Honolulu for a month. Relaxing on the beach, drinking strawberry daiquiris, dancing, eating good food, swimming, and just having a good time with friends,

This brings me to my next point. How many experiences has Bill Gates sacrificed to make all that money? Mark Zuckerberg? Warren Buffet? I think too much.

To become somebody with that wealth, sacrifices must be made. Some simple ones are wearing the same thing everyday. In order to come up with more time to spend on coming up with new business models and managing their companies, many billionaires began to live frugal and minimalistic lifestyles. Wearing the same thing everyday is just the tip of the iceberg. When people talk about Warren Buffet is still living in his flat in Omaha, people tend to think that it’s because he’s such a good guy, instead of splurging, he gives the rest of his money to charity. That is true only to a certain extent.

The other reason why he does that is because of his lifestyle. Becoming a billionaire means not buying the next laptop that comes out. It means you don’t go on vacations when you get a $5000 paycheck. Nor does it mean you can buy that pair of shoes that just look so good on you. You save. You don’t spend at all. Then you invest. Having what it takes to become a billionaire means sacrificing a lot of joy in your life.

I think the one of the most enjoyable things in life are sports. Think about how hyped people get when they hear that they are playing dodgeball for PE class. Sports are one of the greatest gifts in life. Those billionaires don’t have time for sports. There are even some investors who sleep 3 hours a day just to finish all his work. I may be wrong, but I’m starting to think that all those sacrifices just aren’t worth it.

Furthermore, the money you earn is just possessions. You don’t need that much money for experiences. Possessions are generally more expensive than experiences. I bet there are many people out there who have lived much happier lives than Steve Jobs. True, there is a saying that happy people are happy no matter how much money they have. But, to acquire that much money will surely hack away at your health and time. The final verdict? Balance.

© Wesley Tian 2019

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