How to Create Sustainable Happiness: Experiences and Relationships

What choice will you make?

Every morning, we are presented with choices. These choices not only affect who we are but how we are.

Do we want to continue on a never-ending search for materialistic happiness, as so much of society is today? Or do we want something richer and deeper? I believe the way to happiness is through a life full of relationships and experiences.

As these choices present themselves, we need to evaluate what we want. I, for one, used to shop extensively online, constantly searching for that next short-term purchase that would bring me happiness until the next. A pair of pants, that new jacket, a pair of shoes that looked like all my other ones or that plain t-shirt that apparently looks better than all my other plain shirts I own.

It wasn’t until I hit college that these decisions started having more of an impact than they previously did. When we are growing up, if we are fortunate enough, our parents tend to cater to certain needs -- or, maybe more accurately, what we want.

Suddenly, when we leave home and start spending our own money, and making fiscal decisions ourselves, the decisions we make seem a whole lot more important. This is why I decided to end my search for materialistic happiness and shy away from the commercialism that is bestowed upon us by society.

I gave myself two rules to try and help me achieve my new goal. 

  1. I would not spend any money on something materialistic unless it allowed me to do something that I couldn’t do before, such as climbing gear to send it, or a winter sleeping bag to camp under the stars in the solitude created by the colder months of the year.

  2. I could spend money on building relationships, like going to dinner or the theatre with friends, families or someone I just met.

Now, I know that these are completely open to interpretation, and that’s the beauty of it, they are guidelines -- not stringent barriers to living your life. I also want to acknowledge that this is not about saving money, although that is nice, too, this is about strategically investing in something that will actually bring us happiness.

The wonder of this is it’s a practice that you can start early and continue it into your later life, do you really need that third, fourth, fifth or sixth bedroom when purchasing a house, or that obnoxious sports car to just get you from A to B?

These investments can be as grand or small as we want. The only reason I created these rules was to stop investing in short-term, unfulfilling goals and to bring me happiness in a more holistic way. I hope you can do the same. Invest in people, both those you know and those you don’t, in activities you are good and bad at and in adventures that might work or may not. Live the adventure that we seemingly miss each day and seize the opportunity for real happiness.

Published: November 29, 2017

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Sam Reiser

State College

Amateur Australian Adventurer, Professional Enthusiast, dabbling in photography.