Experiences, Not Things, Improve With Time
When I purchased my first generation iPhone, I thought, “Man this is really something. It’s going to change the way we use phones.” Well, of course it did. Then along came the 3G, 4S 5, 7 and now 8. Each phone I’ve owned was great when it was new, but as it aged, somehow it became less satisfactory; it wasn’t as fast, didn’t have enough memory, the screen wasn’t high definition enough, etc. Simply put, there were lots of reasons for me to find the one I owned to be not good enough.
Literally, everything I own has the same problem; as time passes, the novelty wears off. The goods may be perfectly usable, safe, fast or whatever, but I’m no longer happy with them.
The same cannot generally be said of my ‘experiences.’ Some friends and I hiked up Algonquin Peak in the Adirondacks a few years back and it was, quite frankly a miserable experience at the time. There was snow, it got windy, it then got foggy, we departed late, we got tired, we were still out after dark, we lost a person along the way and had to go back and get them, etc. In and of itself, it was not a good experience, but when looked at years later, we had a lot of fun! I remember the camaraderie, overcoming a challenge, some great pics, or whatever. We rarely dwell on the negatives - the negatives seem to be forgotten.
Of course, we cannot ‘modify’ the nature of an iPhone or other object, but we so easily modify the memory of an experience. We may minimize the negatives while amplifying the positives.
In my experience, I gain more joy from acquiring “experiential assets” than I do from actually acquiring ‘stuff.’ I’ve had ‘buyers remorse’ after purchasing an Apple LC575 desktop computer back in the early 90s - it was the worst computer I ever owned. I haven’t had any ‘remorse’ when it comes to getting out with friends and doing things - even when those things have occasionally gone bad. Almost automatically, I minimize the negatives of an experience.
The ‘First’ Moment
We all remember our ‘first love,’ our ‘first car,’ ‘first day in high school or college.’ Honestly, these were not particularly great events. My first car was a piece of _hit. I had to replace the ball joints and tie rod ends, clutch and head gasket before I could get that 1966 Mustang 289 on the road. It was fast, but handled and braked like junk. No amount of ‘tuning’ ever made it better. Still, it got me away from the house, out with friends, to my job/school and date nights and those ‘outs’ are why I remember that car so warmly.
I remember that Mustang - not because of what it was, but what it represented - time out with friends, doing things communally. Even smearing on quart after quart of body-filler and sanding for hours on end became a ‘fun’ task because of help with friends. Left to do it on my own, I’d have probably scrapped the project altogether. My getting that car on the road wasn’t just for my sake, but the sake of those who helped me. Friends make all the difference.
While it’s nice to occasionally sit around and party with friends, the real memorable events almost always take place outdoors. The weather might have been good or bad, the trip hard or easy, but they happen outside in places where we had to push out boundaries and step outside our comfort zone.
I live in Toronto, Canada and it’s cold in the winter. If you don’t get outside in the winter, you’ll spend the whole season sitting indoors - and that just isn’t healthy. The season or weather never (or at least rarely) stops my friends and I from getting outside skiing, hiking, snowshoeing or skating. Sure, it’s a pain to get the right clothing or equipment, but once you’re out there in all sorts of weather, the good memories hang on.
Getting out and doing things with friends and co-workers is a great way to build experiences that will live on for years and improve with time. We will have lots to look back on and plenty of stories that begin with, ‘Remember when we …?” Our happiness cannot be bought and it’s not in the hands of someone else.