My husband celebrated a big birthday this year, and I decided to surprise him with a trip to a lakeside cabin. For every holiday, he asks for books, so I wanted to do something a little different.
We did exactly nothing but sip champagne on the porch and watch the birds and the fish. We could not have had a better time. And now we have fun thinking of the memories of finding a place so remote even SIRI could not locate it.
As it turns out, it's very likely that the experience of going to a cabin actually did make Mr. YBeU happier than getting more stuff. Positive psychologists have studied what makes us "happy" and have concluded that experiences win out over stuff every time. They posit that the thrill of that new gadget or new pair of shoes wears off fairly quickly. In contrast, experiences--like travel, a concert, a sporting event, or learning a new skill--can make you happy in a way that lasts longer. Perhaps it's the anticipation of the event. Your brain can imagine how wonderful the experience might be. Afterwards, it's the joy of sharing your experience with your family and friends. The memories of the experience linger and make you happier long after that new treadmill starts gathering dust in the corner. Somehow this news is very reassuring to me. It means that we crave personal connections more than stuff. Spending quality time with someone you love IS the best gift, and it doesn't have to cost much. What experiences can you gift? Maybe take your Mom to tea? Sign up for a fun sip and paint art class with your BFF? Have a dinner party where guests must eat dessert first! (Ok, this last one might be just me..;) The point is to remember that every gift is an act of grace, and there is no wrong choice. But the gift of your time and attention might be the most unique and precious because only you can bestow it.
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