Why I'll invest in experiences over things

5 mins

My wife just celebrated a birthday, and I decided rather than go the usual course of lululemon or a piece of jewelry, we would make a memory by surprising her with a trip to NYC.

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As overpriced as lulu and jewelry is, that feels like Walmart relative to the limited buying power of the dollar in the Big Apple.

Money can’t fully buy happiness but it definitely helps. The research I’ve done on happiness indicates that money spent on experiences well outpaces money spent on goods. And while this isn’t everyone’s preference, it is mine. We feel happy looking forward to the event, during the event, and then memories after the event continue to make us smile and give us fodder for conversations long after.

A Delta reward ticket, hotels, and food was just the beginning of the financial hemorrhage. If I was going to be happy, I was going to be damn happy! We went to the show Wicked, saw a matinee of Hamilton, and visited a comedy club. We learned a lot during this birthday excursion.

Marriages need fresh experiences.
The monotonous grind of life doesn’t refresh relationships. Experiencing new things in new places led to new conversations and fresh intimacy. We need to make more adventurous excursions a priority. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to always be a place like NYC.

People show up to shows on time.
Crazy to see lines forming 45 minutes ahead of time on Broadway and at a comedy club when people already have a guaranteed seat. What would have to happen for people to show up to a church on time? Broadway sets? High priced tickets? Unbelievers don’t have much to incentivize them to come to a worship service on time, but I long to crack the code on what it takes to get God’s people to thirst for worshipping Him more than we thirst for Broadway.

Art is the most powerful man-made thing on earth.
It causes us to change. Bombs force things to change, but art woos us to change. And it is a change that lasts. More people are interested in American history coming out of Hamilton than going into it. And everyone knew more about American history after spending three hours in a theater than they would have retained in all of third grade. The creators of that show are utterly brilliant. I was dumbstruck by the lyrics, choreography, and moving stage which formed a cohesive, historically accurate piece of art that made me want to be a better person. The Church needs to be making substantive and provocative artistic contributions.

Diversity is powerful.
I’m pretty sure the founders of our country were white. I never saw them jump, but they look awful white. Seeing George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson as black men was really refreshing. Our skin color is only skin deep. Strip away our hides and we are indistinguishable. A black brain is no different from a white brain. Because of our common culture and shared experiences, I have more in common with an African American than I do with George Washington. Plenty of people have played George Washington in a school play who didn’t have his age, height, hair, or eye color. Seeing the founders as black men was initially intriguing and then exhilarating.

Music dictates audience.
Both Wicked and Hamilton were top-tier pricey entertainment, but the Hamilton tickets were 2x the price of Wicked and yet the crowd was younger and more diverse. Not much youth at Wicked and zero diversity. My opinion is that the music sends a signal at Hamilton which says, “We get you. We know your world.” Everyone appreciates the music at Wicked, but at Hamilton you could sense the audience feeling, “That song is me!” The Church needs to stay rooted with normal people while creating transcendent music. Our music and our art need to be rooted in the story of normal people without only being reflective of pop culture in connecting Heaven to Earth.

Humor is the great equalizer.
Everyone came to the Comedy Cellar for one reason only, to laugh. We weren’t disappointed. Only in a comedy club could a Jewish comic call out a Palestinian in the audience and taunt him with the fact that his stage was his territory and the Palestinian wasn’t allowed to be there. They both laughed and shared a common bond. No one could take several hours of theater without some laughs. Broadway is well aware of our human need to lose ourselves in humor. As beings who are created in the image of God, we have the unique capacity to laugh and stimulate laughter in others. I don’t think we see humor as sacred as it truly is. We should make no apologies for intentionally being funny and trying to make people laugh. If anything, we should apologize for not making people laugh more.

I’m glad Lib and I shared these experiences and learnings together. Our marriage is stronger. Our life is richer. And, we are happier. Go figure. Sometimes the research is right. Spend some money on some experiences that will push you. You might end up happier.

Written by Brian Tome on Dec 20, 2018

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