Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, March 24, 2023

College 101: A Special Something

My mom’s forty-seventh birthday is fast approaching, and I need some helpful ideas. Last year, I got her tickets to a group painting series, which she adored. I’d like to do something similar this time around but also slightly different.

She isn’t very materialistic, and, besides, my dad basically has a monopoly on buying her the things she wants. That leaves me focusing mostly on experiences. I’d normally love to spend time comparing different options, but I’m preoccupied with graduation and job hunting.

It’s impossible to do it all. I could really use some help brainstorming. What are some possibilities that are related to holistic health, active fitness, spiritual enlightenment, relaxation and stress relief, etc.?

While your dad might seem to have it easier than you, leading scientists are suggesting that it’s far more rewarding to buying experiences, not things. There’s a growing consensus that material things have no intrinsic value to humans. It’s instead proposed that chasing happiness through the accumulation of seemingly valuable possessions is a fool’s errand.

Contributor Travis Bradberry at Forbes explains the three major reasons why that’s the case: (1) novelty fades quickly, (2) new purchases lead to higher expectations, and (3) possessions inherently foster comparisons. Anyone remotely familiar with holiday gift-giving has likely experienced these realities firsthand. Most people falsely assume that the happiness derived from an object will invariably last as long as the object itself.

Thanks once again to science, we now know that sharing experiences with friends and family results in far superior happiness that can persist almost indefinitely. The conclusion makes intuitive sense. We long to form lasting memories and reminisce longingly with those we care about, especially when we can draw from a mutual past.

There’s also the excitement we accrue from the anticipation, which essentially fuels the joy we feel when the experience begins to unfold. This is all to say that having the chance to share an experience of any kind with your mom is sure to have a favorable outcome. Deciding on the experience then becomes the big challenge. Many find it much more difficult to ideate promising experiences that they can afford.

Editors at Fast Company published a list of seven smart possibilities that you probably wouldn’t have come up with all by your lonesome. Some are more unconventional than others, but that doesn’t have to be a deterrent. Options that fall into the healthier categories you specified could include massage therapy, yoga classes, relaxation lounges, or acupuncture. All of these ideas are easily enjoyed and often enhanced when undertaken with a pleasant companion.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic encourage everyone to try massage therapy for its wide range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. If you know that your mom has been enduring stressors more recently, then a massage could be a terrific way to kill two birds with one stone. Don’t forget to share what you’ve learned with your dad, either. Perhaps he’d entertain the notion of adapting his own gift-giving tactics to up his game.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” -- Mother Teresa

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox
Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 The Daily Cardinal