A photo from geocacher Troy Tomita (t-prime), geocaching with his son in Hawaii
Take a moment to think back into the Kodachrome snapshot memories of your childhood. There’s something there. It’s clutched in your hand in the split-second flashes of family and friends and bursting sounds of laughter. It’s the one item that helped define your childhood. For me, it’s a brightly illustrated children’s book. My mother read the book to me as a toddler. Not long after, I’d read the book to her over and over and over. The yellowed price tag on the book must have read less than a dollar.
A wonder of the world is that there’s often little relationship between what something costs and its value.
The book was priceless to me, not because of its retail value, but because of the experiences that the book nurtured and bonds it cemented reading after reading after reading. In your childhood memories, most likely, there’s a snapshot of a similar item. Whether it was a worn doll or a battered soccer ball or a small half-broken toy, it brought more happiness than the price could ever suggest.
Odds are, if you’re a geocacher, your fingers curl around an equally powerful item now.
The New York Times just published an article about the relationship between happiness and spending. The lessons we’ve pulled from the economic ruin of the recession taught us that more money doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness. According to the article, one major finding of recent research is that spending money on experiences, rather than objects, provides longer lasting happiness than just buying stuff like a couch.
Picture taken by geocacher, Kevin Smith (follieus), with his kids in Scotland
Experiences may, in fact, triple your happiness. You anticipate an experience, live it and then remember it. The value grows over time as you reminisce. A couch’s value only declines.
Geocaching offers a life time of experience growing closer with friends and family and requires only a GPS device and a willingness to explore. There are countless stories among the four to five million geocachers around the world about the value that geocaching adds to their lives.
Geocacher Martin Pedersen has lost nearly 30 pounds and now hikes with his three kids more often. Bruce Alexander began geocaching three years ago, when he was 85. He now geocaches with his son and granddaughter. Thousands of geocachers visited Seattle one weekend in July to attend GeoWoodstock VIII and Groundspeak’s Lost & Found Celebration, where they shared their own stories about finding a little more happiness by following a GPS device to a geocache.
Thinking back to your childhood provides clarity about value. Now, think about the future. Do you choose to “have” or to “do.” Few of us get to choose both. Holding that GPS receiver in your hand might just mean holding years of memories that you haven’t made yet. If you choose to “do” you could end up finding more than geocaches, but more happiness, at the end of your treasure hunt.