The best things in life aren’t things


I was a bit quiet over the last 5 weeks for a reason.

IMG_1037_miniI brought my family on our annual vacation.  This time, we chose to explore New Zealand in a Campervan.

Living in a densely populated City-Island-State like Singaporewhere driving in any direction for about 30 minutes brings you to an abrupt stop in front of the water’s edge, or even worse, every minute (perceived that is) brings you to a halt in front of a traffic lightcreates urges to see landscapes not dominated by man-made marvels and to drive non-stop until one’s bladder, or that occasional sheep herd crossing the road in front of you, demands a stop.

All this can be had in New Zealand, aka Middle-earth:IMG_0775_mini

  • Beautiful untouched scenery sprinkled with the occasional volcano.
  • Friendly and helpful people.
  • Relaxed and slower paced life where money does not seem to be the priority.
  • Close to wildlife.
  • Quality dining and world-class wines.

I am not saying that these are free.  The best things in life are hardly free.  What I want you to look at are experiences instead of (always) material things.

IMG_2402_miniLike cycling, kayaking or hiking through nature and taking in the wonders along the way.

Like tobogganing down a 120 meter high sand-dune, while admiring nature’s skills for creating such a great playground.

Like exploring geysers and volcanic fields, to see how lucky we are to be able to live on this oh-so-fragile planet which rewards us with that delicate balance of hot and cold temperatures and just the right mix of gases in the air, so that we can breathe comfortably.

Like joining a cave tour, to experience how small we are and also what awesome world lies beneath our feet.

I feel so grateful to have had the chance to experience and enjoy New Zealand.  It made me think again what experiences work best in contributing to my happiness.  And all of them do meet these criteria:

  • The experience brings me together with other people, fostering a sense of social connection.
  • The experience makes a memorable story that I’ll enjoy retelling for years to come because of its emotional values.
  • The experience is tightly linked to my sense of who I am or want to be.
  • The experience provides a unique opportunity, eluding easy comparison with other available options.

Of course these might be different for each one of you.  But I bet your criteria might not be so far off either.

For me, the conclusion is clear: I prefer to buy experiences over material goods by a (s)mile.


“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” —  Lin Yutang, author

“Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” — Carl Sandburg, author

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