Regret is a form of self-blame, experienced when people realize or imagine that their present situation would have been better had they decided differently in the past. But most of the time the regret is about NOT doing something at all vs doing the wrong thing.
Failing to take action that could have made us happier by bringing us closer to an ideal-self related goal leads to feelings of sadness or disappointment. We regret thinking we didn't reach our full potential. We regret not becoming the person we feel we could have become...if we only had tried.
Not trying often feels like you have already failed, even if you don’t realize it for some time. At least when you try and fail, you can say that you tried, but if you’re not making a move, you’ll never get even close to an outcome you wish. Just trying new experiences can help significantly reduce the fear of end of life regrets.
Experience Have “Forever” Value
“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” —Paulo Coelho
Studies have shown that people who spend their time and money on experiences are happier. That if you spend money on experiences, as opposed to material or quantifiable items, you are going to experience much more joy and contentment in your life.
That’s because experiences last. Things lose their luster. They offer you brief happiness when in the moment. Buying new things will generally only satisfy you momentarily, but over time the satisfaction you receive from them is most likely going to diminish.
Experiences can live on forever. Experiences are priceless while material items always have an expiration date. Some experiences will never lose their luster, lasting with you until you are on your deathbed. You can always go back to that moment and conjure up pleasant feelings. Perhaps you will never forget a night out you had with friends-dinner, movies, and dancing. You will never forget when you went to the Super Bowl or backpacked through Europe or Southeast Asia. These are life experiences that will never be replaced no matter how many cars or gadgets you buy. No material thing ever really belongs to us - everything can be taken away. But your experiences cannot. Once had, they are yours for the keeping. Good and bad, forever and ever, until death do you part.
Experiences are more memorable - If you walked the Pacific Crest Trail and got a new watch the same year, which do you remember when you get old? Which will you share stories about?
For many people the optimal reason for investing in experiences is that they are unforgettable and joyous occasions. These memories can be especially useful if you are going through a rough time. It is never ideal to disassociate yourself completely from the present, but having pleasant and fond memories to reminisce on can be quite therapeutic. Perhaps they will serve as a reminder that things aren’t as terrible as they seem. Happiness is correlated with your ability to relish your moment to moment experiences. Experiences are something that you will treasure, not only in the present moment, but for the rest of your life. The thrill of purchasing things fades quickly but the joy and memories of experiences, from epic adventures to minute encounters, can last a lifetime.
Experiences Enhance Relationships
The act of purchasing an item is often a solitary act. And the item you bought is not likely going to make a great companion. A material item is an item that is separable from you. Experiences are more likely to become part of who you are as a person. You contribute to experiences and experiences contribute to you. When we participate in experiences with friends, family, co-workers and others, those experiences strengthen and enhance the relationships that are most important to us. Memories from shared experiences can later be recalled among the people who took part in them, as well as shared with others who weren’t part of the experience. Spending time forming new social experiences is proven to create the strongest lifelong bonds.
Experiences contribute to social relationships and make you more interesting as a person (i.e. if you've had shared experiences or can recommend things to others wanting to do similar things) where things are just things. No one tells their friends about you by saying “they have a great pair of shoes, you should meet them!”, they would more likely say “they are an amazing surfer, maybe we could all go together sometime!”.
Experiences help define your purpose and passions
Experiences are a ticket to discover your purpose and passions and to strengthen them once you find them. Your purpose and your passions should serve as your compass through life. They should guide you and influence your daily activities. Without experiences, it’s difficult to know what you really care about or what you really enjoy or, most importantly, what you want to spend your precious time on earth doing.
Experiences introduce you to different worldly perspectives
Perhaps there is no better way to learn about worldly perspectives than traveling. Traveling is undeniably one of the greatest ways to experience various cultures and social norms. It is an education that you will never experience in a classroom no matter how many places you study. You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to witness the benefits of travel. Simply taking a road trip for a weekend offers you a new and fresh experience.
You don’t even have to travel at all to appreciate a new worldly outlook. Spending time in nature can be extremely meditative and healing. Some of the best experiential memories can be found in nature, simply absorbing all the beauty and wonder around you. Experiences like this won’t cost you a dime, but they have the opportunity of being life-changing.
Experiences are how we learn - and learning lasts a lifetime
Humans are, by nature, seeking experiences that are meaningful and significant. Experiences can teach you life lessons that you won’t acquire anywhere else. Traveling to new places teaches patience, acceptance, understanding, as well as organizational skills. Experiencing the performing arts, spending time at museums and art exhibitions, and attending sports events can help uncover a worldly array of life lessons. Experiences have the ability to transform your life by teaching you how to be humble, virtuous, and compassionate.
Experiences help you express gratitude
Gratitude often stems from major life-altering experiences. Experiences that are obviously worthwhile and meaningful are major drivers for us to realize and express our gratitude for life. However, most experiences allow you to feel grateful if you pay attention, even the seemingly mundane ones. If you fill up your life with experiences, imagine how grateful you are going to be for your existence.
Experiences are inspiration, challenge and excitement
Your experiences will inspire you, and at times, call you to take action. Being inspired and overcoming adverse situations are keys to your genuine contentment with life. Whether or not you believe it you need to be motivated to an appropriate degree in order to reach your full potential. Experiences offer you this platform to reach your maximum limits.
And it’s not just anecdotal - science backs it up
There’s an abundance of research that not only supports the above, but illustrates and illuminates the potential long term life changing effects experiences can have on happiness, health, and mental wellness.
We’ve researched and interviewed the experts behind these studies and we will continue to share these as time goes on and the science deepens.