Experiences > material items

It turns out that it’s not whoever has the most stuff wins; it’s whomever has had the most experiences wins, and ends up being happier.

Say what? Aren’t we supposed to save all our money so we can keep up with having the newest of phones, TVs, and cars?

It turns out that while we used to think material things were the way to happiness, according to science, what will bring you the most lasting happiness are experiences — travel, outdoor activities, new skills, and visiting exhibitions. 

We think because our brand new TV will last longer than a cruise to Bermuda, that the happiness we felt at purchasing the TV lasts longer, too. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

“One of our enemies of happiness is adaption,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who’s been researching the correlation between money and happiness for decades. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed, but only for a little while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

Because our new TV is right there, it makes it easier for us to adapt to it. But slowly, it starts to fade into the background as an electronic wallflower of our lives. Trips we took, and experiences we’ve had, start to become part of our identities.

Think about it: Which had a greater impact on you — that video game you got as a kid, or thefamily vacation you took to Greece? You know, the trip with stories that can still make you and your siblings laugh when reminiscing.

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” said Gilovich in the study “A Wonderful Life: Experiential Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness,” published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology

“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are a part of you. We’re the sum total of our experiences.”

Humans are highly social creatures, and meaningful social relationships contribute hugely in our happiness levels.

Gilovich continues, “One reason that experiential purchases tend to provide more enduring satisfaction is that they more readily, more broadly, and more deeply connect us to others.”

Our experiences make us who we are, connect us with other people, and bring us great amounts of happiness.

So, what’s stopping you? Take that money you’ve been putting towards a new couch and get on a flight for Thailand, sign up for a cooking class, or visit the next exhibition at a local museum. You’ll be much happier.

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42 Ways Istanbul Is So Beautiful It Actually Hurts.

DECEMBER 11, 2014, 12:06PM

1. Istanbul is so gorgeous it hurts.

Istanbul is so gorgeous it hurts.

2. There is beauty literally everywhere…

There is beauty literally everywhere...

3. And delicious food at every corner!

Merton Wilton / Flickr: 97238650@N08

Owen Lin / Flickr: owen-pics

Such as lokma – the divine Turkish donuts.

4. Where else in the world can you find cisterns that look like actual cathedrals?

Clint Koehler / Flickr: amberandclint

Andreas Metz / Flickr: natarajam

This is the Basilica Cistern, built in the 6th century.

5. And palaces overlooking the Bosphorus?

And palaces overlooking the Bosphorus?

Like Dolmabahçe Palace.

6. AND amazing Döner kebab?

AND amazing Döner kebab?
Alper Orus / Flickr: eorus

7. Istanbul has an amazingly rich history.

Istanbul has an amazingly rich history.

This is the Maiden’s Tower. It’s been located on the Bosphorus since 1110. According to the legend, a Byzantine emperor had the tower built for his daughter. An oracle had predicted her death on her 18th birthday and he thought that if she lived in the middle of the Bosphorus, she would escape this fate. Obviously, she did not, because as far as legends go, when an oracle predicts your death, you’re doomed.

8. This beautiful monument is the Chora church. There’s been a church on this site since the 5th century.

Garrett Ziegler / Flickr: garrettziegler

Garrette Ziegler / Flickr: garrettziegler

9. And this is what the famous Hagia Sophia looks like from the inside. Have you ever seen anything so majestic?

And this is what the famous Hagia Sophia looks like from the inside. Have you ever seen anything so majestic?
Dr. Andreas Zachmann / Flickr: 23575499@N04

The monument built in 537 used to be an Orthodox basilica until 1453, when it became a mosque. It was turned into a museum in 1935.

10. But the city doesn’t live in the past.

But the city doesn't live in the past.
Rob Hyndman / Flickr: rhh

These fishermen are a usual sight on Galata Bridge.

11. It is incredibly lively and dynamic.

It is incredibly lively and dynamic.
Kashfi Halford / Flickr: kashklick

This is Taksim Square.

12. And did I mention beautiful?

And did I mention beautiful?
Filip Knežić / Flickr: ficablok38

13. Even the seagulls are majestic!

Even the seagulls are majestic!
bass_nroll / Flickr: bass_nroll

14. Istanbul has amazing cafés.

Istanbul has amazing cafés.

15. Where you can smoke shisha…

Where you can smoke shisha...

16. And play backgammon.

And play backgammon.
Guillermo Fdez / Flickr: guillermofdez

Or Okey, another really popular game in Turkey.

17. Istanbul is also populated by cute stray cats.

Istanbul is also populated by cute stray cats.
Matteo G. Teti / Flickr: dalbuio

18. They’re everywhere and people take care of the ones in their neighborhood.

Christian Bélanger / Flickr: krissserz

Stéphane Goldstein / Flickr: 33278177@N00

19. The city is home to beautiful and very diverse neighborhoods. Such as Arnavutköy…

Eser Aygün / Flickr: eseraygun

Franzconde / Flickr: 79928508@N00

20. And Fener…

And Fener...
Charles Roffey / Flickr: charlesfred

21. With its cobblestone streets and colorful buildings.

Nadia Blagorodnova / Flickr: nadiatwitch

Charles Roffey / Flickr: charlesfred

22. And then, there is Gulhane Park, with all its pretty tulips.

23. Let me tell you about the food: from the spices market…

Let me tell you about the food: from the spices market...

24. …to all the street food.

Sascha Kohlmann / Flickr: skohlmann

David White / Flickr: everpool

25. And the simit carts.

And the simit carts.
David White / Flickr: everpool

A bread topped with sesame seeds.

26. And Ayran!

And Ayran!
Robyn Lee / Via Flickr: roboppy

An always refreshing yoghurt mixed with salt.

27. And the fish! From the dockside fish restaurants…

And the fish! From the dockside fish restaurants...

28. …to the fish markets.

Robin Robokow / Flickr: robino

Mikko Lahti / Flickr: mmlahti

29. The food in Istanbul is so good it’s mind-altering.

The food in Istanbul is so good it's mind-altering.
Robyn Lee / Flickr: roboppy

Here is a künefe, a cheese pastry soaked in syrup.

30. You’d need a whole book to cover it all.

You'd need a whole book to cover it all.
Robyn Lee / Flickr: roboppy

Here is a Turkish breakfast (the croissant isn’t the most typical, but whatever), with some Turkish tea.

31. But let’s just say that once you’ve had a baklava, there is no coming back.

But let's just say that once you've had a baklava, there is no coming back.
Robyn Lee / Via Flickr: roboppy

You’ll just never be the same anymore.

32. If you’re a coffee lover, Istanbul’s got you covered.

Owen Lin / Flickr: owen-pics

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr: quinnanya


33. But the real star of the city is the Bosphorus.

Anna Kucherova / Flickr: annakucherova

Christian Senger / Flickr: 30928442@N08

34. The strait that separates Europe from Asia is the lifeline of the city.

The strait that separates Europe from Asia is the lifeline of the city.
gato-gato-gato / Flickr: gato-gato-gato

35. It also makes for a beautiful sight. From Rumelihisari fortress…

It also makes for a beautiful sight. From Rumelihisari fortress...

36. …to the Ortakoy Mosque. the Ortakoy Mosque.
mattspinner / Flickr: mattspinner

37. And if you venture south into the Marmara Sea, there is the island of Büyükada.

And if you venture south into the Marmara Sea, there is the island of Büyükada.
Kristof Zerbe / Flickr: kzerbe

38. Which is so charming it’s just too much.

Florian Lehmuth / Flickr: floffimedia

rejphotography / Flickr: 93503517@N00

39. Also: ferryboats! Istanbul has lots of ferryboats.

Also: ferryboats! Istanbul has lots of ferryboats.
bass_nroll / Flickr: bass_nroll

40. And everyone knows that ferryboats are just the best.

And everyone knows that ferryboats are just the best.
Orçun Edipoğlu / Flickr: orcunedipoglu

41. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by so much beauty, don’t worry.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by so much beauty, don't worry.
Merton Wilton / Flickr: 97238650@N08

9 Reasons Why Traveling Alone Is The Best Way To See The World.

DECEMBER 1, 2014, 10:46AM


There is often a stigma attached to doing things alone. Our first reaction to seeing someone eating alone at a restaurant or sitting by him or herself at the movie theater is that he or she didn’t have anyone to go with. We feel sympathy for them, pity, even. Lately, I have been the subject of that sympathy.

I recently took a trip to Rome by myself. When I informed my friends I was going alone, they were either appalled or felt bad for me. They would ask, “Why would you ever travel alone?” I also received an unprecedented amount of, “Good for you!”

I told them I didn’t want to miss out on a trip just because no one was going to accompany me. Since then, I have realized that this stigma associated with traveling alone (i.e. friendless, loner) just simply is not true.

Not only did I find that traveling alone wasn’t sad or worthy of someone’s sympathy, but it was also possibly the trip on which I learned the most about myself and the world.

Here are nine reasons why traveling alone is the best way to travel:

1. You get to do what YOU want to do

This first reason might be the most obvious, but when you’re traveling in a group or with another person, it is easy to get caught up in what the group or that other person has planned for your trip.

Sometimes, it doesn’t even occur to you that you’d rather do something else than visit every museum and tourist site your travel companions are dying to see.

When you travel alone, you get to skip the awful, “What do you want to do?” and just get up and do it! The itinerary is all yours; you don’t have to worry about others not enjoying the activity.

Even if you are on a trip with a group with differing interests, take a day or an afternoon and venture off on your own to take in whatever it is you deem worthy of your time. I would have missed out on some extremely special moments if I had not decided to go it alone on a trip.

2. You find out what interests you in the world

If you’re traveling in a group, you’re less likely to stop when something catches your eye. You might fear you’d be holding up your group by making a pit stop. But, when you travel alone, you have the freedom to investigate your intrigue.

You can learn so much more about yourself and what you enjoy by taking the time to just stop and soak in a place. More importantly, you find out what does not interest you.

You don’t have to do things you’ve been doing solely because everyone else said, “We HAVE to go here,” or “This place is a MUST-see.”

On my solo trip, I learned I simply despise museums. I walked around exhibits full of historical tidbits I would normally never think twice about in my everyday life and wondered, “Why the hell did I want to come here?”

And, then, I realized it was because everyone had said it was something you HAD to see. I learned I would rather be doing something interactive than spending my time staring blankly at art pieces I don’t understand.

You only have so much time on these trips to explore; spend it searching for something that makes you want to stop in your tracks, something that makes you think.

3. You become more comfortable with yourself

I know many people who will not do anything by themselves. These are the people who will not be caught dead at a sit-down restaurant by themselves; they even want someone to accompany them to the restroom.

They are so fearful of being seen as a loner, or that people may think they don’t have any friends.

I used to have similar fears, but once you take a trip by yourself, the “caring about what everyone else thinks of you,” will pretty much fly out the window. You start to realize there is nothing embarrassing or scary about traveling alone.

On a trip, I walked into a very nice restaurant and told the maître d that I would like a table for one.

He looked puzzled, gave me a look of sympathy and asked, “Just one?” I repeated myself and made sure my tone expressed how much I did not care that I was alone and he was kind of being an assh*le.

Once you start traveling on your own, you learn to be comfortable in your skin and confident in who you are. You might be surprised when you start craving this alone time.

It is so refreshing to just go somewhere and explore a new place without feeling like you need to entertain another person.

4. You can go at your own pace

People often have different mindsets when it comes to traveling and sightseeing.

Some people want to go, go, go and try to fit as many activities as they can into however much time they have. Others like to soak things in, even if it means they don’t see everything. These differing mentalities can often clash when traveling together.

The former gets frustrated and thinks there won’t be enough time to see whatever is on the itinerary, while the latter feels rushed and wants to spend more time at each activity.

The great thing about being by yourself on a trip is that you get to set your own pace. If you want to have a jam-packed trip, go out and do it. But, if you’d rather just meander about and get lost in this new place, you can do that, too! You’re on your time — no one else’s.

5. You become more independent

If you’re like me, you often let others take the reins when it comes to planning and navigating trips. But, when you’re traveling alone, you’re truly on your own.

One of the most important things I had to learn when going it alone was to stop depending on other people. I became independent; I learned how to use a map, navigate the different cities’ public transportation, and I had to pay better attention to my surroundings.

When you’re by yourself, you have to look out for yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. You can’t be careless, and you can’t let people take advantage of you because you’re a tourist.

This newfound independence comes with confidence of knowing that you are stronger and tougher than you once thought.

There is such a satisfying feeling of accomplishment that comes along with being able to navigate a new and foreign place, especially when you did it alone.

6. You become more observant

Normally, on trips, you spend a lot of time conversing with your travel companions and put your attention on them. Without the disruption of others, all of your focus is on your surroundings, as it should be.

Wonderful things happen when you are free from distractions; you see things you might have missed before or you meet people with whom you might not have taken the time to speak.

You are free to take this new place in with all of your senses. The sounds and scents of the city that were previously in the background are now front-and-center. Your experience becomes much fuller when you can take in everything about this new place.

When you travel alone, it might be the first time you’re seeing the world and actually seeing it.

7. Time to reflect

I don’t think I’ve ever paid more attention to my thoughts than when I was traveling alone. Without anyone else swaying your attitude about a certain place or activity, all you have is what you might be feeling at that moment. You can learn a lot about yourself and how you view the world.

There were many times when I found myself lingering at a certain place and would just be thinking about life and where I was, and how lucky I was to be there.

There are few opportunities in our everyday life where we can be completely honest with ourselves about how we feel or how we see the world, without our opinions being affected by another’s point of view.

On your solo trips, you can have that time to reflect on not only where you are and what you’re doing, but on life and what you want from it.

8. Treat Yourself!

Your 20s are a time of frugality. You probably don’t have a real job; more than likely, your refrigerator is barren, and your gas tank might be virtually on empty. You might have to live like this in your everyday life, but you should treat your trip alone like the celebratory event that it is!

Splurge on a fancy (or somewhat fancy, we’re not millionaires) hotel. Treat yourself to a luxurious dinner; order wine instead of water. Maybe even get that $6 dessert you would ordinarily pass up. This is your trip; try to make it like the vacation you deserve.

Luckily, there is no one there with you to say, “This restaurant looks too expensive,” or “We can’t afford that hotel.” Or, worst of all, “Let’s skip lunch to save money.”

You have the rest of your life to worry about your finances; be a little bit selfish while you still can.

9. You become fearless

Some people who have known me for a long time might be surprised I would travel the world alone. I used to be afraid of things I was not familiar with, and change made me uneasy. But, after traveling alone, there are few things I fear.

I have been in many situations during my travels where I have been scared, lonely, uncertain, frustrated and many other emotions we try to avoid every day.

What is important about those moments is that I got through them. Most importantly, I got through them alone. If it had not been for those moments when I felt afraid or homesick, I might not have the same outlook on life I hold now.

Whenever I think there is something I can’t accomplish, or the odds weigh too heavily against me, I can look back on those times I was alone and uncertain, but found my way through it.

After traveling through countries where nothing seems familiar, not knowing a word of the native language and finding your way through foreign streets to a destination, you will realize  there is nothing in this world you cannot do. There is simply nothing you cannot accomplish.

You become fearless.