Why I chose a life of experiences over things

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This topic comes up in discussion quite often for me, when I explain that I moved to Europe and started my travels with nothing more than a carry on suitcase.

“What did you do with all your things?” people ask me.

I sold them. I threw them away. I got rid of all my things, because to me- they were just not valuable to me anymore. I had accumulated years of clothes, bags, shoes, electronic devices, and more. When I thought further about it- I didn’t need or even want these things. My heart was aching for experiences and adventures. I wanted to try different cuisines from all around the world, I wanted to embrace myself in different cultures. I wanted to learn new languages. I could care less about having the latest iPhone or a brand new car.

Unfortunately, that is not the mindset of the world today. We are judged by what we have, not who we are. With the advancements in technology, we are constantly wanting the latest or newest things. Every time Apple creates a new product, people line up outside the doors of every Apple store just to be the first to get their hands on it and show it off on social media or to friends. Being first is a constant never-ending rat race to prove your worth. And even if you are the first, it is always a fleeting moment.

“Nothing material is intrinsically valuable, except in whatever promise of happiness it carries.”
-Psychologist Matthew Killingsworth

There are various studies that prove that long term happiness is associated with having more experiences in life, than things. Although a new purchase does provide temporary satisfaction, experiences provide people with a sense of vitality or being alive during the experience or in time of reflection. Our brains tend to hold onto the feeling associated with the experience. – Assistant Professor Ryan Howell of San Francisco State University states.

Some benefits (in my personal experience) that happened when I let go of all my things:
– I made extra money to travel

– I never had to check in a suitcase

– I felt free

– My life felt less cluttered

– I donated to those in need

So if you ask me if I would rather have a life of temporary satisfaction or long term fulfillment, I believe the choice was easier than I believed it to be.

…………… And a year later, I didn’t miss any of it.

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