Inspiring and Empowering Positive People
Every summer, Carlsbad, California holds an Annual Music Festival with a free Village Music Walk. Similar to free art walks held regularly in cities around the county, the music walk is an introduction to the music to be preformed at different venues over the weekend—and just like most art walks—these are absolutely free. Now, most of us know deep down that the best things in life aren’t “things.” But until we stop, think about it and then start enjoying the many free experiences that bring us joy, we might be missing out on the good right in front of us.
Of course, seeking the good things in life is connected to the numerous studies that have determined that happiness comes from experiences—not stuff. Even if you spend money, you’ll be happier buying an “experience” than a “thing.” According to Livescience.com, eight separate research projects prove the point. Travis Carter, a researcher at Cornell University said, “The idea behind the research is that experiences—concerts, vacations, meals at restaurants—tend to be ultimately more satisfying than spending money on material possessions.”
Why is that? A particular study done at Cornell explained it by saying that experiences, like traveling or going to a concert, create a feeing of great satisfaction within each of us which actually grows over time. That’s because in most cases our memories are making the “experience” get better and better in our minds. In contrast, when we make a purchase of a material good—for example, a new car, a computer, clothing, etc. –we might feel fantastic up front, but that satisfaction tends to fade over time. That’s because shortly after our purchase, most of us start comparing what we’ve bought to what others are buying and what else is available. Based on that, we grow more and more dissatisfied as time goes by.
A professor named Ryan Howell from San Francisco State University explains another value to experiences. He said people who sought out experiences rather than stuff were happier in the moment as well as long after. He continued with, “”We found out the reason they were happier was because their life experiences filled them with a sense of vigor or energy and a sense of being alive. And it also helped them connect with other people.”
While it is great to know that spending your money on experiences rather than material items is important, it is SMART to realize that many of the experiences that bring us joy are absolutely free—like the free music walk in Carlsbad that Thom and I enjoyed last night. What are a few of the things we should all be watching for in our local areas to enjoy for free?
1) Art walks are held regularly in many cities on a regular basis to help promote local artists and local galleries. This is a great way to get out, see what others are creating, and meet new people.
2) The city of La Quinta where we live has been sponsoring “free movies in the park” during certain times of the year. Even if you have seen the movie being shown before, sometimes sitting outside when the weather is nice and soaking up the atmosphere is hugely enjoyable.
3) A number of local cities in the Coachella Valley offer regular outdoor concerts for free. These are a great opportunity to make a picnic, invite friends to meet up and sit and enjoy music for an hour or two. Even if the music isn’t your usual, it is always enjoyable to sit and watch people and expose yourself to something new.
4) Many cities are holding Farmer’s Markets on a regular basis these days. And yes, they are free to just go and walk through and experience the color and beauty of fresh vegetables and flowers. Many of the markets even have live music. Naturally, you will be tempted to buy something—but you certainly don’t have to to enjoy the experience.
5) Since we’ve included Kloe—our little rescue dog—to our family, we’ve been spending a lot of time at the dog park. If your city has a dog park it is a great way to spend time with your dog, enjoy the outdoors, and meet some new people. Plus watching dogs play and run around is definitely a free and funny show!
6) Last but not least—can everybody say, “Nature!” That’s right—one of the BEST free experiences is right outside your front door. Taking a walk in the local park or anywhere near where you live where there is beauty and nature is always rewarding. Walking, jogging, riding your bike or merely strolling is a way to rejuvenate and lift your spirits—for free! In nearly every city, county and across the US there are parks set up to enjoy one of the best free experiences we can all enjoy on a regular basis.
Whenever we spend time in Carlsbad, we take time to go down to the beach as much as possible and watched the sunset. We’re never alone. Celebrating the setting sun over the ocean is something that is practiced around the world—and yes, it is absolutely free. You’ll see a number of people who are standing alone, observing the free gift of a golden orb between the sky and water. You’ll also see couples holding hands and seeing the sunset reflected in each other’s eyes. Plus you’ll see families gathered on the beach with picnics and children running circles in the sand. Not only is the experience free for everyone who takes the time to stop and look, the sun sets every single evening. All we have to do is remember—the best things in life aren’t “things.”
Kathy Gottberg is a published author of two books, and has been writing articles and other features for over 25 years. Her current passion is exploring ideas and experiences that help to create a meaningful, sustainable and rewarding life on her blog at SMART Living 365.com or join the SMART Living 365 FaceBook page at: https://www.facebook.com/SMARTLiving365