I was lucky enough to catch The xx at Summerstage in Central Park last Sunday after being away for a tournament. And by “catch,” I mean I sat/stood outside of the gates in a clearing in the trees and barely was able to see a sliver of stage.
There is something about being outside in semi-nature, enjoying live music, that makes me very very happy. Maybe it is the combination of being in a green, grassy park with the sun shining and breeze blowing, and good aural stimulation that just relaxes the mind and body. It could also be that outdoor concerts are associated with summer, which is a generally happy time of the year. Yay for Vitamin D!
This reminds me of a few things I’ve read in the past few months. First, there were some studies that looked at how consumers spent their money. They split this into 2 categories: material purchases and “experiential” purchases. The researchers found that the happiness that consumers felt from material purchases did not last as long as the happiness that they got from experiential purchases. For example, buying a massage or doing something with friends gives a longer lasting happiness than shopping for clothes or splurging on things.
Considering I didn’t even have to purchase a ticket to The xx’s concert, I’m really glad that I went! It has been good for my mental health this week.
Another good article is this one in the NY Times. It talks about similar ideas and a specific story about a couple who took it upon themselves to get rid of most of their belongings. The woman was able to get it down to 100 personal items, and they were able to move into a smaller apartment and pay off their $30K debt. The couple was also happier with their jobs and life in general because they were able to do more of the things they liked, like being outdoors, volunteering, and spending time with family.
I’m not ready yet to winnow down my belongings that much, but I would like to try to get rid of the possessions that I don’t necessarily need anymore. It is a difficult thing to do, though, but I have managed to clean out some clothes at least once a year. I do, however, find it particularly satisfying to find a use for something that I had been saving for a long time. This might be a different type of happiness. Maybe a happiness from solving some kind of puzzle? A puzzle of how to use randomly sized boxes and containers?
What experiences make you happy?
An interesting article on CNN about maximizing spending for happiness