Why life experiences are the new riches

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Remember back in high school, when you wanted your first car? Your first debit card? A cell phone? New clothes?Over time, you collected those necessities, and now, as an adult, you’re all set. Yet now and then, you probably still catch yourself wanting some new gadget or trinket. It’s no crime — in fact, it’s very human. But how often do you stop and think about not what you want to have, but what you want to do? Which thrills you more — thinking about stuff, or thinking about the next goal you get to cross off your bucket list?

In recent years, psychologists have delved into researching the causes of happiness, and the evidence is very clear about one thing — life experiences bring more lasting joy than material possessions.

Some say life experiences are more satisfying because they bring people together, strengthening human connections. Others say the memories people associate with experiences bring about a pleasant nostalgia for years to come. And still others say the anticipation of an event makes it all the more meaningful, whereas the excitement of a material purchase wears off almost instantly.

Whatever the reason, though, the moral of the story remains the same — life experiences are worth investing in.



Healthy anticipation looks a little different on everyone. Some get doughy-eyed holding tickets to their next concert. Others act jittery at the thought of taking their next foreign language class. And some crazy kids — or rather, rustic young adults — are thrilled at the idea of fully embracing a minimalist experience by giving up their homes and living in vans or campers.

Whatever event it is that gets you hyped up, that’s the life experience you need to seek out. While you think that over, here are a few ideas to help you brainstorm life experiences worth your while. Each has the potential to get you more connected with nature, family, friends or even yourself, depending on who you choose to share it with.

Find your next big life experience_The Common Wanderer


Your favourite band is touring through a neighbouring city, and you think about buying tickets but don’t. You’d have to commute to get there, you’d have to find a place to stay, you’d have to plan ahead and figure out how many tickets to get for your buddies. Ugh. What a headache.

Who cares?!

Next time such an opportunity comes along, jump at it. No matter how painstaking the planning, you know you’re going to walk out of that event with a good story. So save the excuses and keep an eye out for those public events you know you’ll regret passing up:

Music Events

Rock concerts, music festivals, musicals, opera, ballet — why not give them all a try? You might discover a new passion, or at least a new favourite band.


Local events run rampant in every city. Find a film festival, a community theatre event, a hot air balloon festival. Get a good seat, and enjoy the show.

Sports Events

Support your local roller derby team or fly across the world to witness the FIFA World Cup firsthand. Cheer loud. Cheer proud.

Weird Events

The next time your interest is piqued by a seemingly strange event, grab a brave buddy and see what it’s all about. Worst case scenario — you turn right back around and head to your regular hangout.

Certain events only come around once a month, once a year, once in a lifetime. When you see an opportunity to satisfy a curiosity or feed an interest, why hesitate? Snap that life experience up. 

Holi festival, Pokhara Nepal


Yes, family nights are still a thing! As are girls’ nights, guys’ nights, game nights and movie nights. Whatever brings you and your favourite people together — those are the life experiences you want.

Remember, some of the joy of a good life experience comes from simply getting hyped up about it. So get that anticipation going by planning an event in advance now and then. Need some ideas to get the ball rolling?

Try these:

Escape Rooms

Gather up the puzzle nerds in your life and head to a local escape room. The goal — to overcome obstacles and “escape” the room you’re trapped in.



Bocce ball, Guitar Hero, badminton, paintball — whatever floats your boat. Enter your team in a contest and, win or lose, do it extravagantly.


Float Trips

Or camping trips. Or hiking trips. Anything that gets you out of your natural habitat and facing the elements with a good group of friends.


Pub Crawls

This one speaks for itself! If you’ve got a good group of friends, planning these events won’t always be up to you. To keep the good times rolling, regularly challenge your pals to outdo the last social event you suggested.

The Common Wanderer - Cooking classes in Nepal


Not all life experiences have to be a big event. Sometimes a good local, regular experience does wonders. Gardening, for instance, allows you to connect with nature and introduces you to the idea of living more simply and growing your own food. You will also be saving money on produce and can beautify your home with plants you love.

In a similar sense, yoga, Pilates and good old-fashioned meditation help you to relax, nourish your mind and body and find a balanced, healthy centre within yourself.

Not feeling the garden or mind-body workouts? Consider these other meditative opportunities:


Painting, drawing, building, whittling — find the craft that lets you feel lost in your own little world.


Reading helps you to really feel lost in another world. Plus, you get to boost your vocabulary and have a great excuse for ignoring the people you don’t feel like talking to. “Sorry, Dennis. I’m reading right now.”


You don’t have to be a writer to write. If nothing else, writing is a fantastic way of expressing yourself, venting and working through your own thoughts.

Brain Gaming

Exercise your mind with jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, solitaire and the like. Solo brain games are an excellent alternative to Netflix when you want to unwind after work.

Maybe these particular activities aren’t right for you, but don’t write off meditation completely. Whether you sit cross-legged and contemplate your existence or you stand outside and paint what you see, these meditative moments can disconnect you from the hustle and bustle of everyday life — an experience everyone needs from time to time.

The Common Wanderer - Yoga in Malawi


Whether you realize it or not, you have a bucket list. And only you know what’s on that list. At times, you may get caught up in the next item you want to buy, but ultimately, what you truly want — what you need — is to enrich your life with new life experiences.

That bucket list won’t shrink on its own, so get proactive! Travel to the places you want to see. Take classes for the trades you want to learn. Be brave. Seek new new life experiences. And don’t forget to laugh at yourself along the way.

Most importantly, don’t stop at one good experience. Once one is over, seek out the next. Then the next. Then the next. Keep it up and before you know it, you’ll be that grandparent telling stories of grandeur from “back in my day.”

Kuang Si Falls


Research suggests that life experiences bring more lasting joy than material possessions. So what are you waiting for? Invest in a life experience today!

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