First of all, let me say Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. Here in Canada, we celebrated our Thanksgiving a month ago. I always feel that with the American celebrations, suddenly the energy around “the holidays” begins to amp up considerably. And everywhere I look, people are beginning to look for gifts and things to make their celebrations memorable.
What would happen if we all focused less on “stuff,” and chose to create memorable experiences for people instead? Experiences can come in many forms – and suit absolutely any budget! A homemade picnic or a walk in the park, a ski ticket, a massage, a cooking class, a dance lesson… Anything that encourages us to connect, to live, and to engage. As a gift, a well-chosen experience can turn into a gift of joy, of presence, and of flat out FUN! And when it’s over, an experience doesn’t end up in the back of a closet, forgotten. More likely, it becomes a treasured memory.
Here are my top 8 reasons that, as gifts, experiences are better than stuff:
- Experiences can actively engage us – mentally, physically, emotionally and socially.
They give us an opportunity to participate in our lives in a way we might not normally do. We can get to know ourselves better, and get to know the people we “play” with better too. I love connections!
- Experiences succeed in taking us away from the everyday.
Sometimes we don’t realize when we are stuck in a rut. A new experience can happily shake us out of our status quo routines and open us up to new people, new things and new environments.
- Experiences can give us time out to play – with our friends, family or on our own. Busy lives get crowded with stuff that needs to be done – at home, at work, in our communities. When we’re given an experience as a gift, it’s like getting special permission to PLAY! We can kick up our heels and enjoy life on a whole different level. (I had a gift of a sailing trip recently – and I felt like I was 6 years old again!!)
- Experiences can expose us to new things, or remind us of things we’ve forgotten we love to do. Has someone you know always wanted to surf? Or wanted to hike a cool local trail? Or maybe they’ve wanted to spend a fun afternoon with the kids without having to organize or coordinate even one single detail? Reignite old passions, discover new ones or kick start energy for things that they already love to do, but don’t do enough!
- Experiences often last longer in our memories than a thousand forgotten things.
A fabulous experience doesn’t end up in the back of the closet a few weeks after the holidays. It doesn’t end up in a dumpster. An experience lives on in treasured memories, new skills, closer friendships and with a renewed connection to self.
- Experiences add to the richness of our lives in a way that stuff simply cannot.
When we engage fully in life through our experiences, even in small windows of time – the quality of our lives is affected for the good. Presence. Connected-ness. Real moments that touch us and remind us how great it is to be alive. Stuff can’t do that, no matter how cool it is.
- Experiences can be the spark for new connections, new passions and new ideas.
Activities and experiences, especially new ones, give us a chance to change our perspectives – to see things in a new light. And sometimes, that awakens creativity that can lead to all manner of different ideas and projects. Or maybe that surf lesson will remind you not to take life so darned seriously!
- Experiences are FUN.
Honestly, who couldn’t use a little more fun in their lives?
As we get closer to the holiday gift-giving season – why not consider how an active experience might be the perfect alternative to the glut of stuff that seems to accumulate and take up so much space in our lives. Physicality, connection, engagement, relationship. These are the gifts that keep on giving.
What about you? Have you given or received an experience as a gift that you absolutely loved? Please share in the comment section below!