When I began my serious interest in firearms around 2007, I had no guns to my name. Now I have…well, let’s just say that I have more than that now. Most of these were bought for a specific reason, but some appear to have shown up in my closet because ‘Hey, it looks cool–why not?’ I’ve also noticed that some of these tend not to come out of storage as often as I thought they would when I bought them. That’s why a recent article by Jay Cassano at fastcoexist.com resonated with me . . .
Cassano’s article explains that, contrary to popular belief, money can buy some long term happiness if it’s spent on experiences, and not just tangible objects.
There’s a very logical assumption that most people make when spending their money: that because a physical object will last longer, it will make us happier for a longer time than a one-off experience like a concert or vacation. According to recent research, it turns out that assumption is completely wrong.
“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”
So rather than buying the latest iPhone or a new BMW, Gilovich suggests you’ll get more happiness spending money on experiences like going to art exhibits, doing outdoor activities, learning a new skill, or traveling….
“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”
For some reason, this article hit home with me. Yes, I’m all about buying cool stuff, and I’m a firm believer in getting solid, durable, quality equipment, even if it means paying more. But once the ‘basic’ needs of equipment are met — i.e., something that will allow you to get the job done consistently for whatever your primary firearms purpose(s) happen to be — sometimes there isn’t much benefit in getting just one more gadget or doo-dad to hang off your favorite rifle. If that tacticool stuff just sits in your closet and/or safe, what was the point?
When I look back at the times I had the most enjoyment with firearms, it was when I was taking formalized training, or when I shot sporting clays at some of the local courses, or just getting together with old friends or a group shoot at my local range. Like Cassano said, it’s the experiences that I had that really stand out.
I have several perfectly servicable heavy-duty pistols for concealed carry and personal self-defense. That was the primary reason I got interested in firearms in the first place. Given my likely risk profile, that also pretty much serves what I (in my honest assessment) believe that I ‘need’. Anything else is primarily for my own enjoyment.
So be it! Going forward, I will make an effort to spend money more on experiences that I will enjoy, and less on stuff. Instead of dropping $1,000 on a new rifle to join the others in the safe, I’m going to channel that money into training and shooting sports. I’m not going to avoid buying new equipment–I’m getting in line along with Nick for a Glock 43. And if I need to get new equipment for a specific experience, that’s fine But going forward, I will prioritize money and time for more experiences like shooting sports (sporting clays, IDPA,) training, and new things for me like hunting, and less on just buying stuff without an end goal in mind.
What are you planning on spending your ‘firearms money’ on this year?