Okay so let us be real for a second, while we are a happy family and we really love each other – it is not always Kumbaya or sunshine and roses at our house. We for sure have our family meltdown moments (see the FAQ page to find out more)!! We also have other contributing factors to our family satisfaction and what makes us a happy family. Our faith, our health, and our commitment to one another, of course, plays a HUGE role in our happiness.
That being said, we have uncovered something as of late that we hope will further improve our family values, relationships, and our family dynamic. We want to share 🙂 (read on if you like, if you figured this out a long time ago, that is fantastic!!).
The research behind our findings –
It was by mistake that we found this fabulous Forbes article at the end of last year. In the article, the author recounts a 20-year study done by a professor at Cornell University which showed that more “stuff” can often hinder happiness. The author claimed that with such a consumer culture (especially here in the U.S.), it is easy to get lost in “things” that are not needed. Which then can lead to comparison game with ourselves and others dependent on our possessions.
While we didn’t feel like we were basing our happiness on our things, we also were able to notice that we had so many things we just didn’t need (like at all) and we were spending our time and extra income on things that really had no importance or use to us. Often the things we were buying were simply – just things. After a family Sunday dinner, we started a discussion and each person concurred that they would rather spend money on experiences with each other than on “stuff”. We wanted to experiment and see if this really did make us a more happy family!
The experiment –
We decided to make a conscious effort as a family to spend our time and money on experiences and not things. One of the ways we are trying to accomplish our goal is (drumroll please) … This year is the year of NO tangible gifts in the Smith home! Yes, you heard that right – no gifts! Honestly, so far it has been spectacular (to be fair it is only April haha)! As a family, we realize that our best moments are when we are together as a family – traveling, creating new memories, learning, and getting away from the daily requirements of life. We want to encourage more experiences like these.
What our year of NO GIFTS looks like:
- For every holiday we will do a nice dinner together, but no gifts. Literally. My Mom told us to not even expect a card for our birthdays. Sounds harsh – but not really.
- We still buy necessities of course and replace things that we need.
- No more buying things just because.
- The money that would be spent on Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Valentine’s day etc. all goes toward the family travel budget.
- For Christmas this year the ENTIRE family (plus one – Tan just got engaged this weekend! Hurray!) will be visiting a destination together that has been at the top of the list for years (more on that in a later post). We will be focusing on what Christmas means to us and spending time together. That is all.
Why shifting what we spend our money on has made us a more happy family –
This plan has worked for us (so far) because the pressure of having to buy stuff, just because, is gone. We still do nice things for each other. For example; my sweet Mom got me (Kam) an adorable bracelet just the other day after I had a really hard day, and cute Becks still makes little gifts for everyone. However, the requirement of gifting is gone and has been replaced with spending more time together. In other words, our focus has shifted from things to time. We really are looking forward to seeing how the rest of the year will play out! There hasn’t been a birthday yet, so it will be interesting to see how it goes when no gifts are exchanged (yikes haha). We will make sure to share our findings and any hiccups along the way.
What do you do or practice to help you have a more happy family? Are you more interested in things or experiences? Of course, we would love to hear from you below!
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The Smith Fam