Once you make significant headway as a minimalist, you start to value having meaningful experiences over more stuff. As your mindset changes, creating memories will take far higher value than fixating on the latest styles or gadgets.
Think about it: do you remember everything you unwrapped several celebrations ago? Or do you remember who you spent it with? Do you remember what you purchased on that big shopping spree? Or do you remember the shared laughter of the people you were with at the time?
Yesterday, I went on a school trip with my four-year-old son to a theme park for young children and families. He was so excited to be on a bus and see all the landmarks on the way. He was delighted to see his friends who had also come along on the trip, and he couldn’t wait to try out all the rides. But something stood out to me on this trip that will always stick in my mind.
My son loves his toys and is frequently spoilt by the people close to him. Thinking he might want to check out the gift shop before we left, I told him about it. His reply was “But I don’t want to go to the gift shop, mummy, I want to go back on the rides!”.
He was having such a good time, just me and him, spending time together and going on the rides, that buying a new, shiny souvenir didn’t matter at all to him. He just wanted to make the most of the time we had. And for that I was proud of him and wasted not another moment.
My son smiled for far longer on that trip than any new plastic sword would have made him. What was even more memorable was when he gave me a big hug and said “I love you, mummy”. I didn’t need to buy him another toy to make him happy, and he was still talking about his day right up until he went to bed.
On a similar note, I don’t remember all the stuff my parents bought me over the years, and I was a spoilt child who always wanted more. What I do remember are family walks down by the canal, picking blackberries with my dad, having my crazy nan and uncle over on Christmas, playing board games with my parents, and playing video games with my mum.
All of those memories involve interactions and experiences with others because spending time with the people you care about is far more valuable than what’s on a store shelf or in your bank. Sometimes, we don’t even realise how significant a moment or day was until months or even years later.
Experiences will benefit anything and anybody in your life. Yourself, your family, your friends, your pets. The best thing is, you don’t even have to spend money if you don’t want.
A beautiful walk seeing new sights can be just a memorable as a day out to a place you have to pay to visit. A game in the garden with your child will stick in their minds far more than a new gadget. A visit to a family member you don’t see very often would cause a bigger smile than an object sent through the post.
The next time you’re considering a gift for somebody or treating yourself, consider the gift of your time, for there is nothing more precious.
Time over money. Experience over expenditure. Memories over stuff.