Giving Gifts vs. Experiences This Holiday Season
Which has the longest-lasting impact?
According to an article in Psychology Today, we get greater satisfaction out of buying “experiences” rather than buying “things.” The article refers to a study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that also says people have an easier time choosing between more than one experience than they do choosing from a variety of material items.
Why is that? What can we learn from it? How can we apply that to this year’s holiday shopping decisions?
Things like trips and visits to amusement parks have a better, longer-lasting impact than toys, electronics and jewelry that we keep and use over time. According to the Psychology Today article, we often end up comparing our “things” to other “things” we could have purchased instead, and that robs us of enjoying what we bought.
“Experiences” allow us to create memories that last much longer than the useful life of most products we buy today. Shoes and clothes go out of style. Gadgets become obsolete more and more quickly. But memories and the feelings associated with them stay with us.
Experiences also allow us to grow. We become more knowledgeable about the world we live in, more tolerant of and better able to navigate things that are different. Experiences force us to challenge our assumptions and push our boundaries and limitations.
What we can take from this study is that the “gotta have it now” syndrome is really one of those LIES that Limit™. The truth is there’s nothing we have to have NOW. Making choices driven by short-term satisfaction will result in a closet full of shoes and clothes worn once, a pile of gadgets collecting dust and a booming storage facility industry.
We can reverse the trend – particularly this year as the economy forces us to look for greater value in the gifts we give and the things we buy for ourselves. We will get more enjoyment and be more fulfilled if we trade the urge to buy the next hot thing and devote the same energy and resources to experiencing something – anything.
This notion applies in all segments of life from business, to child rearing to relationships. Through intentional reflection at the point of purchasing a gift, when drooling over those Manolo Blaniks in the store window or when interacting with a child who has come to expect “things,” we must take the time to consider the consequences. Every choice has a consequence and if we now know what makes us feel and be better for longer, we are better equipped to choose wisely.
If you are struggling with spending, this is a particular useful piece of data that implies that not spending can be just as, if not more, rewarding. Experiences don’t have to cost money. Instead of hiking through the mall, hike or ride one of the gorgeous trails in your region. Volunteer and bring a smile or a helping hand to someone in need. Give yourself the gift of feeling good about yourself.
As we approach the holidays – the season of overspending and overindulging others – we can use a different barometer when it comes to buying gifts. It may not be an item that you can buy, cross off your list and move on, but the gift of companionship, babysitting or planting a spring garden for someone is not something that will get returned or exchanged.
I’m excited to announce that my new book, LIES That Limit: Uncover the Truth Of Who You Really Are is now available for pre-order. The estimated shipping date is November 20th. To pre-order your copy, click here.