“Trying to be happy by accumulating possession is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body” – George Carlin
There is no doubt that materialism is ever-present in modern society and undeniably has its perks. For some it may truly bring them happiness, and for others it may be used as a temporary distraction from burdens in life. As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements of latest phones, gadgets, fashion items. Christmas has transitioned from once being a religious holiday, then onto a more family focused occasion, to eventually being an online show-and-tell on social media of what luxurious gifts you received. Consumerism culture is arguably at its highest.
Materialistic needs obviously are not unknown to me, and of course there are times where I do long for the latest gadgets and technology. When I was younger these needs would have greater hold on me, but as I have gotten older, it has become apparent to me that these gadgets only supply me with a limited amount of joy. The initial excitement of making a purchase is undoubtedly infectious and to an extent does make one feel amazing. But thinking about it objectively, how long does that feeling really last? One day? One week? Once that feeling goes, it will just leave you yearning for more. And thus the cycle repeats. After a while, when thinking back to those purchases, you will not experience any nostalgia.
Memories that are made and the feelings felt while travelling however, last and endure. Whether it be good or bad experiences, I always look back at those moments fondly and positively. After 10, 20 or even 30 years, those memories will always have the same effect on me; it is independent of the time past. If talking in an extreme manner, if I was on my death-bed, the lavish television set I had bought in the past would be meaningless at that point, but the memories and moments made from travelling would still bear meaning to me.
How can the feeling of purchasing of an expensive watch, possibly have a greater impact than standing in the bleach white snow of Iceland, witnessing the natural wonder of the northern lights, or the feeling of buying the latest Macbook even compare with standing atop Victoria Peak at night, with the beauty and lights of Hong Kong presented in front you. For me, experiences are exponentially greater than possessions.
Admittedly, I have been extremely fortunate in this life (or what has been of my life so far) to be given the opportunity to travel and see what there is to offer in this world. I have been lucky to experience the morning calm of Times Square, New York, to be humbled by the luxury and wealth of Dubai, to have walked the famous night markets of Taipei, Taiwan and to have stood in crystal-clear waters as the sun set in Jeju Island, South Korea. Happiness, for me, is gained by experiencing these things and sharing these moments with others. All these moments and memories have left long-lasting impressions, and the feelings experienced during these moments will never be forgotten.
While materialism provides that instant excitement which we all love and crave, travelling provides that enduring happiness. That happiness can be felt whenever special moments from travelling are recalled by yourself or with others, bringing nostalgia, laughter and even tears. The point of this however, is not to encourage you to sell all your valuables and immediately travel, or to stop you entirely from making expensive purchases. The message to take away from this is that while possessions may wear and break over time, memories will not.
Image credits: http://www.realgap.co.uk/travelling-solo