There’s a reason that grey nomads are known for their positive approach to life … it’s because they’re happy.
New scientific research has concluded that money spent on acquiring memories makes people happier than money spent on acquiring ‘things’.
This perhaps explains why grey nomads who may have had to sell possessions, often including their home, in order to afford their new lifestyle are just as happy as anyone else.
And maybe even more so!
Janice R and partner, Alan, have been on the road for five years and are glad they sold up to finance their adventure.
“Do we have any regrets about selling? Maybe in the beginning, but we did what we had to do,” said Janice. “And now, after seeing the beautiful sights of the country and meeting the amazing people who are also ‘on the road’, we wouldn’t swap our caravan home for anything.”
While the couple’s initial sell-up decision was prompted by Alan’s ill health, many people aren’t waiting for a compelling reason to take the bold step.
British trend forecaster James Wallman sees Australia’s grey nomads as pointing the way of the future. He believes one of modern society’s most crushing afflictions is what he calls ‘stuffocation’, and argues that an obsession with materialism is preventing people from leading more fulfilling lives. He says more stuff doesn’t equal more happiness and we need to find something more meaningful to replace material items. Wallman argues that grey nomads have the right idea in choosing to ‘do’ things instead of ‘buy’ things.
One of the key advantages of having experiences rather than simply owning something is that it leads to greater social interaction and that is one of the bedrocks of human happiness … and a clue as to why Happy Hours are so named.
A new study from Cornell University in the US also concludes that even the enjoyment we derive from anticipating experiences is far greater than that which we get from anticipating the purchase of a new possession.
The ‘experience’ pleasure also apparently lasts longer than the ‘possession’ pleasure. Objects become obsolete but the relative fleetingness of a trip around Australia is what makes it so special. With time, even bad memories can become good ones. For many grey nomads, the worst experiences on the Big Lap later make the best stories … and somehow stir the most nostalgic longing.
The author of the Cornell University study, Thomas Gilovich, says grey nomads and others should try to “decide on the right mix of material and experiential consumption for maximising wellbeing”.