5 Reasons to Give Experiences, Not “Stuff”

5 Reasons to Give Experiences Not Stuff

You’ve seen it year after year now–the “deals” that come tumbling into your phone notifications and email inbox. Every retailer imaginable feeding a narrative that seems to build on itself like an avalanche until it becomes a seemingly unstoppable force. That narrative: that there’s low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked, and if you miss it, well–you MISSED IT! Imagine how much worse your life will be if you don’t land that DEAL! If it feels like this message is being screamed at you, that’s only because it is–from all sides.

But let’s pause for a moment and consider this message. Is it true? How does it jibe with your experience as a consumer?

Think about last year. How much of the stuff you bought (for just a great deal!) last year is something you still use? Do you even still have any of those items? Chances are, even if you have them, you probably don’t use them. Maybe they turned out to be not what you’d hoped. Maybe the enticement of a deal got you so wound up you purchased something you found you didn’t really want. And where does it end up? In the trash? Donated to charity? Passed on to someone else?

We can all agree that giving is good, but how can you give better? How do you stop yourself from falling for the same consumerist trap every year?

Here we’ll discuss 5 reasons to stop giving “stuff” and start giving experiences instead!

Memory, not stuff, makes your identity
True, sometimes giving stuff IS giving an experience. Who doesn’t remember being a kid and tearing the wrapping paper of a hoped-for gift? Maybe it broke the next day or you played with it for years, but that moment is what you were really given. That moment is what you take with you. When you experience something, it influences your whole future–every future decision you make. The trick is that your mind tends to jettison memories of things that seem to be useless or mundane–like the disappointing gift you got from your Aunt Sally. Why hang on to that memory? The memory of receiving it is gone at almost the same moment the gift itself is discarded or put in a closet–out of sight, out of mind.

Experiences, on the other hand, remain, especially if it takes the person out of the mundane grind of daily life. Maybe it’s something they would love to do, but for some reason wouldn’t ever decide to try on their own? Maybe the experience you give them will actually help them to become a better person, or will help them achieve a goal they’ve always wanted to reach for. Giving an experience is giving them something that will stick with them, something they’ll be telling their friends about, something they might even remember on their death bed.

Giving STUFF–bad for the economy
When you give stuff, you’re playing an odd game of roulette with your giving. Maybe they’ll find that thing useful or entertaining. But you can’t always be sure. For this reason, economists have argued that gifting is actually bad for the economy: people spend good money on something for another person, which most of the time is unwanted by that other person. This evaluation passes over the social value of gifting, but the point is well taken. Aren’t we being a bit wasteful, spending money on this stuff (on sale!) that’s likely to be forgotten anyway?

Experiences don’t need storage units or landfills
Americans are drowning in stuff. The off-site storage unit business has exploded in recent decades as people find there’s not enough room in their houses-garages-attics-basements for all their STUFF. And they cling to that STUFF so dearly that they’re actually willing to take on considerable monthly rental fees just to keep it under someone else’s roof across town.

On the other end of the spectrum, regarding STUFF we throw away, that has to go somewhere. We contaminate soil and defile the natural world just so we can bury the STUFF we can’t use anymore. Maybe some of it gets recycled, but that recycling process doesn’t come without environmental cost. And let’s not forget the energy spent, the natural resources used to produce that nick-knack in the first place. And all for what? A transitory feeling of pleasure at opening a gift, at best, and a feeling of disappointment and obligation at worst. Doesn’t it make more sense to send your loved one to a concert, or give them an excuse to finally visit that museum they’ve always wanted to check out?

Everybody loves a good experience
Great experiences know no age. Young or old, everyone likes to have fun, to learn new things, to have a chance to improve themselves. We’re wired to enjoy novelty, no matter what form it takes, and no matter how young or old we are. And that novelty is far more memorable when it comes in the form of experience that delights all the senses and isn’t just another soon-to-be-forgotten shiny thing.

Experiences are easier to buy
There’s at least one person on your list who’s impossible to shop for–that person who doesn’t seem to want anything, or who already has everything they could want (that’s in your price range). Or maybe it’s just hard to tell what they would want. Buying them an experience is so much easier! Think about that difficult person on your list: do they like learning new things, eating out, getting massages, going to plays or concerts? Chances are they like at least ONE of these things! And you only need one!

On top of all this, experiences can be given year after year! Did they love that massage gift certificate they got last year? Why not give it again? Maybe you could even add on enough for them to try one of our great session enhancements or try a longer massage. Sure, you sent them to the symphony last year, but maybe they’d love to see a rock concert this year.

Giving experiences beats giving stuff for so many reasons. We could keep going, but we don’t want to keep you. Get out there and enjoy the experiences of your life. And when it’s time to gift, share those experiences with those you love.

Be good to yourself this week.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to design your logo, create social media posts and other content, or strategically develop your brand by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

 

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How to Prepare Now for Holiday Stress

How To Prepare Now for Holiday Stress

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” -Anonymous

Holiday stress is coming! Are you clenching up inside? Stop! You’re not naive. This isn’t your first holiday season. You have a good idea of what stresses you’ll face, how your life will be disrupted. And yet so many of us talk about the coming holidays like it’s a natural disaster that couldn’t possibly have been predicted.

Why feed the drama? You’ve got this.

Get your priorities in order
You may have asked yourself, after a particularly harrowing holiday season “Why do I put myself through this?” It’s a valid question. Maybe the holidays hold great meaning for you. Or maybe you feel obligated because of family custom or social pressure. In either case, remember this: resentment is poison.

Whether you love the reason for the season because of family or religious commitments, or couldn’t care less, resenting the holidays will only punish you. It will sap your emotional stamina, and might even become the source of unnecessary family drama. We’re here to tell you that you have a choice now. You can just react to stress as it comes, or you can plan for it now and go into this stressful time of year prepared–and not only that, happy and ready to fully enjoy everything the holidays have to offer.

If you want no part of it, draw healthy boundaries for yourself and, without antagonism or anger, let your loved ones know you hope they have a great time, but that you have other plans. The worst thing you can do for yourself or others is to go into holiday events grudgingly or with a resentful attitude.

Plan for happy
Think ahead about the most busy times of the holiday season. There’s a list of things to do, events to attend, gifts and food to buy. It seems to go on and on. But why? Maybe it’s a good time to promise yourself to say “no” or “not this year” to a few things. Commit to bowing out of some things now before the social pressure is on; you’ll be surprised how easy it is to back out of some things you just don’t have room on your plate for. And as you go, remember: “no” is a complete sentence.

You can also plan to take care of yourself now! Scheduling your massages early and often is always a great idea, but especially during the holiday season. Our clinic gets busy this time of year just like any business, so seize this chance to grab the times you know fit into your schedule. Book online or give us a call: 425-243-7705. Set your reminders on your calendar. Then take a deep breath, and know that your self-care is one less thing to worry about squeezing in.

Maintain healthy habits
Now may not be the best time to pick up a new habit, even if your intentions are great. Your will power is limited, and there’s no sense in setting yourself up for failure during the holiday season.

By all means, though, maintain the good habits you’re already doing! If you already work out, get regular massage, do yoga, meditate, or eat healthy foods, it’s more important than ever to stick with it. Letting go of your good habits will throw off your equilibrium on days when you’ll need it more than ever.

So what’s it going to be? Are you going to polish your “BUSY” badge of honor and go into the holidays proudly miserable? Or are you going to plan ahead and be thankful for whatever comes?

I know what I’m picking.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to build your brand through social media design and strategy by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com