The Experience Is Everything

Life Balance

Nora and Tim help you find balance when dealing with a stressful debt situation. Learn how to manage stress and enjoy travel without breaking the bank.

The Experience Is Everything

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It's easy to get caught up in money, or the stuff that money can buy. But it's a mistake. We should focus instead on cultivating rich experiences, especially those that help us to connect with our friends and loved ones, and those that bring us not just surface enjoyment, but a deeper sense of personal fulfillment. 

How can we create these enriching experiences, regardless of how much money we have on hand? I have three basic suggestions: 

1. Make good memories. We're constantly filing away new experiences in our memory banks, but we create most of them without any clear plan or intention. All too often, in fact, we create bad memories for ourselves -- by rehashing our troubles endlessly, by fighting pointlessly with the people we love, or simply by failing to pay attention to our own health and well-being. 

If that describes your life, you can break that cycle by committing to create some positive memory every day. It could be as simple as a quiet conversation with a friend over lunch, a walk around the block in the evening, or fifteen minutes spent listening to your favorite music when you get up in the morning. Often it doesn't take much to get the ball rolling in a positive direction, so that we can start filling our minds with the kinds of experiences we'll want to remember. 

2. Make meaning. With the hustle and bustle of work and family demands, it's easy to string together days and weeks that don't amount to anything. You worked hard, but what do you have to show for it? You struggled, but where is the victory? The antidote to this is to pick one or two things that you want to master, then do something every day that helps you reach that state of mastery. 

Again, this could be something very simple -- planting a garden or reading all the books by your favorite author. On the other hand, it could be something huge, like starting your own business or putting yourself through medical school. The point is to decide what you want your life to mean, and then to do something large or small every day that helps you to create that meaning. 

3. Embrace this day. Whether you're living in a penthouse or a shack, you have a lot of control over how you think and feel about how your life is unfolding. If things are crummy, embrace today's opportunities to make them better. When bad things happen, deal with them forthrightly. And when good things happen, celebrate them and build upon them. 

All three of these things are positive habits of mind, and they may be uncomfortable for you at first if you've spent much time inscribing negative habits in your life. But, you can change your outlook -- and the benefits you'll reap are more than worth the effort it takes. 

When you're old and gray, you may remember those times when money was tight. But what will warm your heart on that distant day? Not the memory of having lots of money, but the emotional impact of the wonderful, vivid experiences that you created for yourself and shared with those you love. 

My advice: start building those wonderful memories today! 

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  • Best things in life are free! Reminds me of something Maya Angelou once said, "If you don't like it change it, if you can't change it, change your attitude. "

  • mv4453--

    I agree. It's too easy to think that we have to pay a premium -- or, more broadly, that we have to seek happiness outside of ourselves at all. In fact, we need to get right on the *inside*, which matches what Angelou says about changing our attitudes.



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