Issue 48 / Why We Think Experiences Trump Extravagance

Why We Think Experiences Trump Extravagance

May 04, 2016

Face it. You are more obsessed with the screen on your phone than you are your surroundings. Snap out of it. It's time to put your priorities in the right order.

Graduate at the top of your class, get married and buy a nice home equipped with the newest technology by the age of 28. Do these expectations for your life sound familiar?

These cultural norms are ingrained in the South Asian community from a young age. The goals are not with bad intentions. Elders just want to ensure their offspring lead comfortable, happy lives. The assumption is that a professional career, life partner, children and big house are all required for happiness by a certain age.

At social gatherings, there’s often an underlying energy of comparison — whether it be about who has the most elaborate wedding, the largest home or the latest gadgets. The Indian wedding industry alone generates approximately $4 to $5 billion in business a year. We are given the answers to what will make us happy in life without being encouraged to ask the most important question: what does happiness mean?

Does it mean hosting an elaborate wedding beyond our budget and starting a marriage in debt? Does it mean getting a home we can’t afford leaving little money left to vacation? Does it mean dealing with heavy interest charges from swiping our credit card on a new Prada purse or home theatre system? Does splashing out cash on current trends make us happy? Or, does it shift our attention away from enjoying the present because we’re so consumed with keeping up?

With constant pressure to acquire things, we get accustomed to the instant gratification of buying and confuse it for genuine happiness. Often we are buying things we don’t really need. (If you think you aren’t guilty of this, take a look in your closet after finishing this article; the large majority of us have something we barely wear).

As Deepak Chopra points out, "Everyone is doing the best they can based on their level of awareness."

That being said, we shouldn’t feel bad wanting an elaborate wedding or nice home. What we should do is make it culturally acceptable to have honest discussions about what makes us each happy as individuals — it may not be meeting expectations set out for us. Maybe we don’t need our uncle’s best friend’s cousin at our wedding. Some might be happier starting with a small condo purchase before an elaborate home. We need to be able to talk about why we can have material wealth, a fancy wedding and still feel unhappy.   

Along with talking, we need to take action. Make the choice to create life experiences instead of focusing so much on material things.

Below are some simple tips on how to make a change:

Slow down. Choose one activity that you do daily and change its pace. For example, when having your first cup of coffee for the day, make a conscious point to take a deep breath and savor the first three sips.

Take a moment to appreciate little parts of your daily routine.
Photo Credit:

Get outside. Instead of playing sports on your new Play Station, why not go out and play? Go for a bike ride or a walk. Sit outside and read a book or relax and enjoy the sun on your face. Instead of the latest gadgets, give children toys meant to play with outside and play with them (frisbees, kites, basketballs, etc). Those experiences will create memories for your kids that are much more meaningful than playing on an ipad. 
It doesn't cost much to enjoy the beauty of being outside.
Photo Credit: Gerardo Sanzon

Vacation. Planning trips can be done on a budget. Use Skyscanner to find flight deals, Groupon for packages (ideal for couples and families) and swap the fancy hotel for a cosy apartment rental from Air B&B. Travel creates memories that last a lifetime. A Prada purse can cost the same as a week trip in Playa Del Carmen Mexico. While there, for the same price as a simple t-shirt from H & M, you can enjoy fresh, organic lunch by the beach at places like Blue Parrot Beach Club. Trips don’t have to be extravagant to be a positive experience.
 Lunch Beach Blue Parrot Playa Del Carmen
Lunch with a view at Blue Parrot Beach Club is an experience you'll remember.
Photo Credit: Rachna Sethi

Staycation. No vacation? No problem! If budgets or schedules don't permit, don't get discouraged. Get creative and plan a staycation. Move furniture around in your home to set up a tent and go camping in the comfort of your own home. Look up free, family-friendly events happening in your neighborhood. Pamper yourself with a do-it-yourself face mask or take turns giving family members massages. Commit to a few days of cutting back on social media (a digital detox) to focus on yourself and/or your loved ones.

            camping indoor

Take a staycation. Use the space you have to create memorable experiences.
Photo Credit:
Appreciate people. The most valuable thing you can give to anyone is your undivided attention. It doesn’t cost money to listen to someone, to compliment them or to leave them a little love note.
 Lovenote, love letter, post-it
Little gestures of love can go a long way.
Photo Credit:

Stay playful. Wash your car outside on a sunny day, play hide and seek in your home — there’s tons of ways find ways to bring elements of youth and fun into your relationships without spending big bucks. Layer your floor with pillows, blankets and create a cosy environment in your home to watch a movie. Scavenger hunts with little clues to funny treats are easy to plan and always a huge hit.
kids on beach  
You're never too old to play.
Photo Credit:


 Main Image Photo Credit: Gerardo Sanzon

Rachna Sethi


Rachna (@thesassyspiritual) is a graduate of the Applied Mindfulness Meditation program from the University of Toronto, a certified Educator with two bachelor degrees and a diploma in Art Therapy. She's dedicated to living with a compassionate approach. Committed to helping people integrate Mindfuln...


Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter for all of the latest news, articles, and videos delivered directly to your inbox each day!

  • PLEASE NOTE: Some of the contents of the newsletter may not be suitable for minors.

    Join A Community That Cares About What Matters To You!

    We Fearlessly Celebrate Our

    Desi Identity!