How “The Little Mermaid” Taught Me To Value Experiences Over Things

I think we’re all guilty of it. I know I am.

I’ve got a closet full of gear that’s literally spilling over the floor and out the door. It’s easy to get caught up wanting things you think you need. Needing things you think you want.

But a long time ago we were taught a valuable lesson and we just need a little reminder sometimes.

Ariel had gizmos and gadgets a-plenty. She had whozits and whatzits galore. The little brat even had 20 thingamabobs! I don’t have 20 thingamabobs! And she had the audacity to want more??

Well, here’s the thing. She wanted to be where the people were.

All the things in her life couldn’t fill that empty longing insider of her.

What she really craved was a new experience.

Totally understandable!

How to Balance Experiences and Things

Nice to have or want to do? Which way does your wish bucketlist bend?

There’s always a tradeoff to your spending. Those shoes now or that trip later. Get the new iPhone or go skydiving. Those decisions add up, and at least for me, I prefer the scale to weigh heavier on the “things I’ve done” side.

The moral of this story isn’t to say “don’t buy stuff.” You should. I do and will continue to. But make sure to purchase with purpose.

The majority of the things that I buy are directly associated with experiences I want to have. I really wanted to get into ice climbing, so I had to save up and buy ice climbing tools, new crampons, ice screws, and all the related gear that would keep me safe leading pitches on vertical ice.

I was going to the beach a lot, being that my wife’s family lives right on the water, and I wanted to do more than sit in the sand. So I saved up and bought a stand-up paddle board. These purchases, while yes they check the things box, also become catalysts for experiences I can have.

And that’s the key.

Are you buying something just because it’s cool, it’s new, you think it would look nice on a certain shelf, or you don’t have that color tie?

Do you need that color tie? Do you need that on your shelf? Or would you rather put that money towards gear for an activity, the activity itself, or simply just travel?

What’s going to really make you happy?

All the gizmos and gadgets under the sea couldn’t make Ariel happy. She needed to chase a dream that every other fish thought was crazy. An experience few could ever have because they were too busy decorating their sea caves and staying away from deep and dark places.

Don’t be like the rest of the mermaid folk. Follow Ariel’s example and value experiences over things. Maybe you’ll get that happy ending too.

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By the way, anyone ever notice the colors in that rainbow are upside down? I didn’t until just now…

Jonathan Ronzio
Jonathan Ronzio

Adventure filmmaker/photographer, outdoor athlete, & speaker. Director, Between The Peaks. Founder & Chief Editor, Explore Inspired

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