The Good Life is build on a foundation of memories and friendships. We can buy memories and invest in friendships, but both require something more to flourish. They need time and they need to be actively fostered in order to grow.
We experienced this over the weekend when we spent time with others. It has almost become essential for us to spend time with friends and neighbours this winter. We have eight hours less sunlight at this time of year than we do in June. Nothing seems to warm the soul as much as sitting around a table, or gathering around a fire and sharing stories with friends. We got together with some other couples this past weekend and spent a full afternoon and evening eating fondue (so much food!) and playing games while the kids ran around and made their own memories.
Scandinavians call this hygge. It’s a term that describes the cozy feeling of being with others in the long dark and cold nights of winter. In fact, happiness goes up in the winter time in many northern countries where they actively seek to create memories with others. Researchers Dunn and Norton are not surprised. They found that when people invest their time and money in an experience with others, they feel better. They say, ‘study after study shows that people are in a better mood when they reflect on their experiential purchases which they describe as “money well spent”‘. They found that 57 percent of people were happier when they had an experience, versus only 34 percent who bought an object.
In other words, experiences matter to our happiness more than stuff. The simple act of eating fondue with neighbours, sharing coffee with a friend, going for a walk with your kids, or visiting on the sofa with a relative might enrich your life a little more this time of year. Each experience creates a memory and making beautiful memories is truly foundational to the Good Life.
When we choose to enjoy the people around us, we might even make memories unawares. Often we look back on our lives and it is only then that we pinpoint those times when we found happiness and hope. Our neighbourhoods are full of opportunities to make memories and to have fun and create new friendships. Every community has the potential to become a place where goodness is created, shared, and received. If we live into our neighbourhood with hopeful anticipation that this will be a place where we make memories together, we may find that we are a lot closer than we know to the Good Life we are looking for.
As we look forward to 2018, may you come to see that there is more to your community than you know. May you experience life with others and discover that you are part of a wonderful unfolding story. You matter to your neighbourhood, and if you choose to receive it, your neighbourhood could also matter deeply to you, too. Happy New Year!