The Best Piece of Advice I Ever Received for a Happier, More Fulfilled Life

One of the best parts of my job is having the opportunity to interact with some of the most awesome and interesting people I could ever hope to meet. In fact, I learn just as much from each of my clients as they learn from me. I’ve gained some of the most powerful insights into my life, and life in general, during casual chatting between sets.

Here is one of the most powerful lessons I ever learned from a client:

| Do things, don’t buy things. |

Wow, did this blow my mind. I should also mention that it was sparked by the recap of this client’s trip to Africa, where she had two major goals: see life beginning (the birth of a giraffe), and see life ending (a lion hunting and catching its prey).

Sidenote: Since this conversation I’ve had a few other clients travel to Africa, with nothing but amazing things to say. I’ll be planning my trip there soon.

I digress.

It turns out that research backs up this wisdom. When we buy material things, they are exciting for awhile. However, the novelty eventually wears out and it becomes our new “normal.” Simply, the material objects we buy cease to carry any real value and become just another part of our normal life. This phenomenon is called hedonistic adaptation.

How many of us have clothes in our closet that we were so excited to buy, but now hardly ever notice are still hanging up in the closet?

How many of us get that new car excitement every time we drive to work in the morning, now that we’ve had the same car for years?

Probably not many of us.

Go out and find yourself an adventure.

Yet, how many of you remember the vacations you’ve taken throughout your life? How many of you remember the activities and events that got your heart pumping?

I’ve been skydiving twice, and I can tell you it is something that excites me every time I think about it. I can also distinctly remember, at least parts of, every vacation I’ve ever been on (and there lie some of my fondest memories).

The novelty of material things fades over time, but the emotional response to having new and exciting experiences last forever. These positive emotions are reproduced every time we think about these experiences. Doing things creates wonderful memories to look back on and relive, while buying things just empties your wallet.

I urge you to do some reflection this week: what frivolous things have you spent money on lately? What events, places, or things are you dying to visit but can’t seem to find the time or money to do them?

I’ve stopped buying people material gifts. Instead, I try to buy them an experience–an activity they’ve wanted to try or a place they’ve wanted to go. The science shows that experiences bring happiness, not material goods.

My biggest tip for you going forward to help live your best life, just as it was taught to me, is:

Do things, don’t buy things.

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