2012.12.05 I won't be swimming in the Sea of Regret

Written by David Green.

Got any column ideas for me? I asked David when he kissed me goodnight at 1 a.m. Monday night.

“Use an old one,” he advised as he walked down the hall.

“Go to bed,” he added. “That would be my idea,” he said as he headed up the stairs.

I don’t always follow my husband’s advice, but we’re heading to Miami to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with all our kids and grandkids and I’ve got a lot to do to get ready. So, here’s a column from Feb. 18, 2009. The message is even appropriate for this time of year.

– Colleen 

 By COLLEEN LEDDY

There’s nothing like being vindicated even if you’re vindicated by your own self. I speak of my guilt in planning trips on the cusp of the next Great Depression, even though I truly am happy to have spent the money on the experiences. There is always that twinge of guilt, however, that hangs like a little black cloud ready to rain on my parade of happiness.

But a short segment on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation Science Friday made me think, Begone guilt! Regret no more!

I was dashing between schools Friday when I heard snatches of the Research News portion of the program. Host Ira Flatow was interviewing a psychologist about his study which concluded people felt happier when they spent their money on experiences rather than things. I’m a big spender of kooky things, but still, I thought, “My sentiments exactly.” 

Ira asked if that could be extrapolated to buying gifts, such as for Valentine’s Day and the psychologist, Ryan Howell from San Francisco State University, said yes.

So, instead of buying that red teddy bear with an “I Love You” balloon attached, you should have bought your sweetheart tickets to a concert. Instead of buying jewelry, you should have booked a reservation at a new and different  restaurant. 

Luckily, David happened to listen to the same program so when I suggested we eat out Friday night, twisting his arm wasn’t too hard.

David is rarely eager to embark on any endeavor that requires spending money. I have long since decided not to let that stop me. Whether it’s buying Zingerman’s brownies or spending 10 bucks for the dinky little raft ride at Cumberland Falls State Park, I am all about the experience.

He’s happy not spending the money and I’m happy having the experience. I suspect he’s a little less happy about me spending the money, but the threat of a wedgie usually ends the under-his-breath mumbling and grumbling.

I listened to the podcast of the show later and was bolstered by further conclusions of the study which found that people who spent their money on experiences had an increased sense of vitality and vigor. They also had a sense of being connected with their social world and engaged in less social comparison. 

For example, you might buy a pair of shoes and think they’re nice until you see your friend’s shoes and think they’re nicer. When you spend money on experiences, you’re less likely to engage in that sort of activity and less likely to have buyer’s remorse. You’re, as the title of the show says, Buying into Life Instead of Things.

Of course, the study only included 154 participants, hardly enough to be conclusive. But, you know how it is, take your vindication and validation where you can get it.

And when you hear about a study that only confirms what you’ve been living, it’s easy to think of lots of examples of how happy the experiences made you. 

Snorkeling in the Bahamas tops my list. What a time that was. Swimming in the pool built into the side of a cliff at Arcosanti in Arizona—I can still transport myself to that budding experimental town where Paolo Soleri blends architecture with ecology.

A day trip on a boat from Homer, Alaska, to see a rookery and explore an island town. Skiing at Shanty Creek on Christmas Day and swimming at night in the heated outdoor pool while snowflakes fell. 

The amazing pool at the hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where I removed my sarong only to discover I was wearing my underpants instead of my bathing suit bottom.

Hmm, most of these memories involve water...heck, they all do. I wonder if that is significant.

Maybe it means you won’t find me floating in the sea of regret.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
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  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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