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.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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