A recent consumer psychology research article I read for class sparked up some intense self-reflection and intellectual curiosity. The article was titled "Happiness from Ordinary and Extraordinary Experiences" in which researchers Amit Bhattacharjee and Cassie Mogilner wanted to determine which type of experience results in the greatest amount of happiness. Researchers defined two types of experiences that make up our lives. Ordinary experiences, which are common and frequent and extraordinary experiences which are uncommon and infrequent. An example of an ordinary experience could be Sunday dinner at Grandma's while an extraordinary experience could be Sunday dinner in a small restaurant while vacationing in Italy. Researchers introduced the whole aspect of age as a variable in this concept. Along the course of eight different studies, researchers concluded that older people are more likely to find happiness in ordinary experiences while younger people are more likely to find happiness in extraordinary experiences.
This conclusion was very interesting and eye opening because it is important to do things that bring you happiness. Happiness is very subjective yet research shows that people value extraordinary experiences when they are younger and often reflect on those experiences when they are older while also finding great happiness in ordinary experiences. This conclusion was eye opening because it made me think back on the extraordinary things I have done in my life. I had a moment of panic because I have not done enough extraordinary things in my life and I immediately jumped to the conclusion that I am going to be a resentful, unhappy old lady who did not live her life when she was young and takes out her anger on innocent volunteers. I eventually calmed down and realized how irrational I was being and then did some self-reflection. I still have my whole life ahead of me to do extraordinary things. I am only 20 years old. I am at a time in my life right now where getting an education is my top priority. I am working hard now so in the future, I will get a well-paying job where I can afford to travel to extraordinary places and make extraordinary memories.
After reading this research, three ideas came to mind that I believe are good things to reflect on:
- Just because I am young, does not mean I cannot find happiness in the ordinary things in life. Some people cannot participate in extraordinary things due to physical, emotional or economic reasons. Does this mean that they will not find happiness in their life? Nope! We must make the ordinary experiences extraordinary. Ordinary does not necessarily mean bad or boring. As I said before, happiness is subjective and it is all about how you perceive an experience.
- Be open to new experiences. Do not be afraid to try new things or step out of your comfort zone. You never know when you may get the opportunity to make an extraordinary experience so do not take anything for granted. Live life to the fullest and you will not be disappointed.
- Do not compare yourself to other people's lives. Live your life on your own timeline and do not let other people's life experiences get in the way of your happiness. Just because someone the same age as you has already visited different countries does not mean that they are happier with their life. Social media is poisonous when it comes to this. We are now more aware than ever about people’s vacation trips. Their trip is shoved in our face on every social media outlet. We should not let our FOMO (fear of missing out) affect our happiness. We are in charge of our own life and should not let other people affect our happiness.