Experiences over possessions

By , on July 8, 2013


A FRIEND of my husband asked me how in the world I do not own any Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tod’s, Burberry or Chanel bag, the carry-on status symbol of choice for the modern woman.

I had to smile.

Okay. I have to admit that I am not immune to their charms. If anything, I love soft leather, and I certainly can appreciate wonderful craftsmanship. The ooohs and aaahs of women who realize what it is, is also a great incentive, I will not lie.

But I never really felt the urge to whip out my credit card so that I can have it in my arms, never been to the point of really considering buying, never felt for it that urgent fire that one gets when one wants something, and now. Really.

Because, internally, I could not justify its cost. I do not understand why in the world it would have to cost an arm and a leg, or why in the world I had to have it just because everyone else has it.

(Hubby said that women buy bags for other women—those who can appreciate it—and it is the wanting to be the envy of that other woman that drives many a woman into bankruptcy… I told him maybe it is the same for men, except for them, it is cars, or trophy mistresses.)

I would rather put my money in the stock market, or invest it in a business, or …

Let’s do that again.

While I would put my money in the stock market, or invest it in a business, I will entertain the thought of travel too (say, 70 percent of the time).

Because show me pictures of faraway places—snow capped mountains, private villas with a butler (at half the price), lodges in deep brown and adorned with elk antlers, being massaged into oblivion, having a romantic candlelit dinner with only the white sand, sparkling and beautiful, and the lullaby of the sea for company—would spark a yes from me and I would play with money and dates in my head until I could justify going.

That is my thing.

I found out that my thing is the in thing now (post-recession).

A New York Times article that said people are happier when they spend money on experiences rather than material things. If I can quote: New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses….

If they are creating memories rather than just collecting stuff.

Experiences over possessions.

The article actually started with the story of a couple who went to the extreme of limiting their possessions to just 100 things and then giving everything else away (and in the process, eliminating their $30,000 debt).

Amazing.

They found out the pleasure of owning do not last very long. But a trip, a night at the theatre, adult ballet lessons, sleeping in with the kids, a Saturday night dinner with the whole family, even though fraught with little fights or inconveniences or little mishaps, would seem rose-colored when looked at through the (thankfully) hazy veil of memory.

I do not want to say never because I do not know whether I will succumb to a designer bag in the future (maybe when they invent a bag that can double as something else?). But having what I have, knowing what I know, and feeling what I feel, I am oddly glad too, in a way.