Experiencing outdoor concerts makes me happy!

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?

[Update]
An interesting article on CNN about maximizing spending for happiness

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6 Responses

  1. chewbear says

    I used them to hold a few small items in my shoulder bag and other bag. It is thick enough to protect from the elements and is a perfect fit too!

    I’m going to really try to cut down on my possessions this year. I was doing pretty well on not buying too much stuff before I started my current job, but now that I have an income it is tempting to get the things I need and that I think I need.

  2. Nat says

    Yeah, clothes are the hard part, I think. If you don’t have very many clothes, you make a lot more work for yourself by needing to wash them more frequently. But I feel that most material possessions would be quite easy to cut down on if I really worked at it.

    The last thing you said really reminded me of something Dori would say. How’d you end up using them?

  3. chewbear says

    Thanks for the article! It is really fascinating. I’ve thought about how if there was ever a situation where I could only save a few items from our apartment, I would go for my external harddrives because they hold so many digital memories! It would be a good idea for me to start backing them up though.

    I’m really trying to cut down on my possessions, and especially be more minimalist with my wardrobe, but it is hard when there is a certain expectation of what to wear at work and especially since I didn’t really own professional clothes until a year ago.

    I like figuring out things too. A few weeks ago I found a use for 2 boxes I got in college that held tubes of essential oil type things. I was so incredibly happy to have found a really perfect use for them after saving them for so long.

  4. Nat says

    I definitely feel the same way that you do about outdoor concerts. Going to Bonnaroo has always been like that–3 days of that feeling, coupled with the very strong feeling of community that results from events like that, results in an indescribably powerful catharsis after the festival is over.

    Another very cool article about minimalism, this time with an emphasis on digitization, is this one:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10928032

    The end of it is completely sci-fi, but may eventually be possible…

    A lot of things make me happy. If I had to generalize, I think I’d go with… figuring out complex puzzles, learning (and getting to use) new information, and spending time with people who make me laugh and help me expand my mind and interests.

  5. chewbear says

    I would say, any time I’m playing ultimate! :)

  6. Kenneth says

    Playing ultimate with the Stuy ’09 team. =]