We’ve all heard forever that money can’t buy happiness, no? And that the things that truly make us happy are free. Oh, a new car of pair of shoes or puppy may make us happy. Especially the puppy 🙂 For a time.
But have you ever noticed that sort of happiness begins to wane fairly quickly?
A study by Cornell University showed that experiential endeavors–such as a walk in the woods—bring more happiness than material purchases. For one simple reason: People talk more about their experiences than they do their possessions. And, they derive more value from doing so.
In other words, time spent on doing brings more happiness than money spent on buying.
Even if this results from, say, a vacation to Bali, it’s not the purchase itself that brings a smile to your face. It’s the anticipation of going, the planning of what you’ll do, the living it while there, and then coming home and telling your friends all about it that enriches your life.
It’s difficult for a pair of shoes to sustain that sort of joy in your heart for long. Although a new puppy will bring you a smile for a long time—because you’re engaged in interacting with said pup.
But here’s the secret: So many of these sort of experiences truly cost nothing.
The heart of how to be happy in life is in appreciation. And again, while we can and do appreciate the baubles we buy, as the new thing loses its shininess, our joy of it flattens out pretty quickly.
Without true appreciation though, even the day-to-day joys occurring in great abundance around us can go unnoticed.
I love to train my dogs. Not a news flash! And while much of the dog world requires a fair amount of monetary investment, many of my favorite times don’t.
Recently our group hunt-test trained, and oh, the delight of my girls in the field! How much I love seeing them blissfully doing what they were bred to do. The unmitigated joy in their faces will stay with me for a long while, bringing a smile on even a gloomy and cold winter day. And oh how I love Miss Wicked, in the picture above 🙂
Once we’ve finished for the day, we pull out our chairs, uncork a nice bottle (loved the Chardonnay from Saturday!), and catch up on each other’s lives. Ah, sitting under a bright shining sun in a mid-winter champagne-colored field, with good friends and laughter and fun. What is better than that?
I’m still chuckling at the stories.
And still filled with appreciation for my friends.
The essence of it is: Appreciation changes your energy vibration in a way that not even gratitude does.
I’m a big gratitude believer, but recently have been chewing on the difference between the two emotions, which is at the heart of why the Cornell folks found what they did.
While we feel grateful for things, from the roof over our heads to the god of our understanding, that’s just the launching place for appreciation.
Spiritual teacher Abraham Hicks explains that gratitude carries the signature of past struggles—struggles we have overcome. But that the emotions of love and appreciation carry a higher energetic vibration. And while appreciation is not exactly the same as unconditional love, it’s quite close.
The difference between gratitude and appreciation is similar to the difference between motivation (which spurs you go somewhere), and inspiration (which is about being called to who you actually are.)
Gratitude is for how far you have come.
Appreciation helps you finish what you started.
And both are free.
As Abraham said:
“Appreciation and self-love are the most important tools that you could ever nurture. Appreciation of others, and the appreciation of yourself is the closest vibrational match to your Source Energy of anything that we’ve ever witnessed anywhere in the Universe.”
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.