Americans traveling in Italy and other European countries notice early on that hotel rooms are a lot smaller! In fact, cars are small, homes have less square footage, and people have less stuff. And yet, these same countries rate high on the list when happiness is the measure.
Lately, I’ve been seeing research articles supporting the hypothesis that life experiences make us happier than the purchase of things. The Huffington Post has an article entitled “Proof that Life Experiences – – Not Things – – Make You Happier” (found here). It posits that before buying an item we think it will make us happy, but it is post-purchase when we realize that it is the experiences of life that bring happiness. Another article in Psychology Today (here) points to the creation of memories that live on long after the post-purchase “high”. What’s better is things that we buy to use with others such as the car enjoyed on a road trip with special friends and family!
Six months after meeting Marco in Sweden, he left his job, his family, and his friends and moved here for us to begin our lives together. I found us a small, 600 square foot apartment in Arlington. It was an efficient lay out with open living space, bright walls, lots of light, beautiful hard-wood floors, and a cute efficiency kitchen that opened into the living room. We loved it! We often look back to that space and marvel that it wasn’t the lack of space that we recall, but the joy of being together!
I don’t typically love T.V. commercials. . . but the recent one by MasterCard, with the little kids discussing the 400 million unused paid vacation days of American workers is cute! The children share the numbers and go on to clamor for their collective parents to use the days. Just use one more vacation day. One more experience to enjoy and to remember. Please take time to be with us. . . priceless!
Italians don’t have to be begged to take their vacation time. . . and boy, do they have the paid days off. . .One list shows that the average paid days in the U.S. is 13 compared to 42 for Italy (found here). So, while they may have less stuff, they take their time off and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. This same thing is found in country after country where economically speaking there is struggle, yet, on the “happiness” scale, the people enjoy life.
My friend shared “The Happy Movie” with me. You can find it at www.thehappymovie.com. I have yet to see it, but she tells me that it makes the point that the research above is making. Here are the things that make people happy: 1. play, friends, and family, 2. having new experiences, 3. doing things that are meaningful, 4. appreciating what we have.
Roaring 20’s picnic with friends