LESS STUFF, MORE EXPERIENCES

Photo Credit: Jakob Owens

Food, water, shelter, love, and health are the most basic needs we have as human beings. Everything else is often just stuff. Some of it is really important stuff like your driver’s license or your kid’s favorite stuffed animal or your family photos. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s still just stuff. You could survive without it.

We, especially as Americans, LOVE stuff. We can’t get enough of it. It’s the “gatherer” part of our hunter/gatherer nature I guess. We collect things, mostly shit we don’t need at all. We accumulate so many things that our things start to stress us out. We throw shit away as fast as we buy it. We have yard sales when we start feeling guilty about how much shit we actually have. We spend tremendous amounts of money during the winter holidays and then turn around and purge last year’s gifts during spring cleaning. If something breaks, we get a new one instead of fixing the old one. We get a little endorphin high every time we click “Buy” on Amazon or do some “retail therapy.”

I’m no better, but I’m trying to be. I’m trying to replace the stuff in my life with experiences.

People ask what I want for my birthday or Christmas, and my answer has traditionally been, “Nothing, I’m fine thanks.” That never actually works since my family members are too awesome to listen to me. My new answer is, “experiences,” because stuff will wear out and eventually get tossed but I’ll never forget an experience of riding in a helicopter or learning out to make fresh pasta or going to an NHL game. Instead of keeping a Christmas list, keep a “bucket list” and ask for things from that.

So when people ask what you’d like for your birthday or graduation or anniversary or holiday, tell them you want to experience something new. Be specific or let them surprise you. Either way, that experience becomes part of who you are. It’s better to let our memories, more than what we own, define us.

Do the same for others. Instead of buying them a new necktie, send them horseback riding or to a baseball game and if you really want to make it special, go with them and share that experience together.