For Impact


“Wealth Is An Abundance of Things We Value”

For Impact Ideas | | Tom Suddes

You might have seen this from me before. As an ‘Old Guy’, this definition of wealth becomes even more meaningful the ‘longer the shadows’.

Almost everything I (and probably you) VALUE rarely ‘COSTS’ anything. If you don’t believe me, just take a moment and write down a list of all the things that you VALUE. Then put a dollar amount next to it. Pretty amazing.

I’ve been thinking about this from a new perspective that was recently reinforced in Ode Magazine in an article entitled A New Kind of Personal Wealth. At the highest level, the theme of this great article by Adam Smith can be summarized as follows:

EXPERIENCES are much more valuable than ‘THINGS’.

WHAT you spend your money on matters much more than how much of it you HAVE.

Smith cites a lot of great studies and books that support this whole idea of EXPERIENCES and RELATIONSHIPS being much, much more meaningful and important than ‘buying stuff’.

  • “Our collective plunge in net worth (recession) has led to a rise in a different kind of personal wealth, prompted by a more thoughtful approach to consumption that emphasizes experience over excess and community over commerce.”
  • “People are shifting from mindless to mindful consumption.” John Gerzema, Chief Insight Officer, Young & Rubicam
  • “Perhaps our biggest misunderstanding is the link between increased wealth and increased well being.” (Tons of research) has supported the fact that any income beyond roughly $75,000 does nothing to boost our day-to-day moods.

Here are some other thoughts on EXPERIENCES.

  • The experience itself is less important than just doing it. Evidence for the outsized impact that experience can have on happiness has been around for a long time. (Smith even cites Pine & Gilmore who in 1999 published one of my favorite books, THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY.)
  • All kinds of recent work confirms the VALUE OF EXPERIENCE in promoting happiness.
  • Experiential purchases were defined as those made with the goal of living through events! (Material purchases were defined as those made with a goal of acquiring certain physical objects.)
  • In one study, more than half of the subjects said experiential purchases made them happier than material ones. Most agreed that experiences represented better value for their money(!)

And on and on. Article goes on to cite ‘gifts’ as another great way to feel happiness. “… the more you give, the happier you are.”