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Happiness is investing in experiences, not more things

More and more Americans are walking away from rampant consumerism, rife with all the attendant affectations accordant with acquiring more and more things. This change is being spearheaded by America's baby boomers.

According to Harvard Business School researcher John Quelch, this new consumer could be called the "simplifier." They are well off but do not want to be tied down by a big house, expensive cars and possessions that take up space, time and money. Simplifiers present a significant challenge to marketers that have historically convinced people to increase their worth and increase their possessions. Simplifiers want to collect experiences and not possessions. They want to give these experiences to others, too, rather than objects.

A growing body of research suggests that most people gain more lasting benefits from experiences than from acquiring objects. Everyone can remember vacations or trips, meeting new people and experiencing a new place. Take a look at a photo album to refresh your memory. How many pictures do you have of your new microwave, kitchen range, car or sofa? You may recall many wonderful memories for the time you took a scuba diving lesson or rode horse back on a beach. What are your memories of your new couch or car? Quite simply, we don't become bored with our memories of new experiences. Sooner or later that new car or truck is an old car or truck and, let's face it, the thrill is definitely gone.

The experiences do not have to be elaborate or expensive. In fact several inexpensive experiences are among the most remarkable. Camping has been identified in a number of studies as among the most memorable experiences that children have in childhood. A University of Minnesota study found that children that have one or more meal with their parents every day are much less at risk across a variety of risk categories. A special dinner with all hands involved can be a wonderful bonding experience. For those that can afford it traveling is a wonderful experience and educational to boot.

The next time you are tempted to buy another thing or another object, consider how much you and your family might benefit from a new experience instead. Remember, all kids count.

Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at hurlburt@wildblue.net

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