Give “Moments” not things?

What to buy the runner in your life for Christmas? On the surface, that sounds like a pretty easy question. Runners need running gear, so a new pair of running shoes or a running watch could be the perfect gift, right? It seems instinctive that investing in something we can see, use, and touch delivers the best value. But this is wrong; the trouble with the gift of running shoes or watches is that the happiness they provide fades quickly. What once seemed fresh and exciting quickly becomes the norm, new purchases lead to fresh expectations. As soon as we get used to a new possession, we look for an even better one! The reality is that giving the gift of an experience will make runners happier than receiving material presents

experiences-not-thingsExperiences make people happier because they become a part of our identity(Carter & Gilovich, 2010). We are not defined by our possessions, rather we are the accumulation of our life experiences – of everything we’ve seen, the things we’ve done, and the places we’ve been. Buying an Apple Watch isn’t going to change who you are; but buying entry to a 10km race or a marathon just might. We live in a world that is obsessed with consumption. Houses, cars, technology, etc. are all items we are pressured into buying. You can’t go anywhere, including on your personal laptops, without encountering advertisements for the latest fad or technological advancement. Advertisers offer you happiness when you consume their products. Buying a new house, car, or iPhone might satisfy you momentarily, but it doesn’t last. Experiences on the other hand, live on forever. If you spend money on experiences, as opposed to material or quantifiable items, you may be much content in your life because it seems it is be better for us “to do” rather than “to have” (Van Boven & Gilovich, 2003). We value memories above possessions even though experiences may only be fleeting, unlike material goods their worth tends to increase as time passes (Carter & Gilovich, 2012).

The value of an experience can’t be quantified, in this way it is priceless. Our experiences define our purpose and passions. So rather than a physical gift like running shoes or a running watch, maybe buy the runner in your life a race entry.  Yes the running shoes and the gear may last longer than the experience of the race, but the memories of the run and the training will remain forever, and that is what matters most.



Carter TJ & Gilovich T. (2010). The relative relativity of material and experiential purchases. J Pers Soc Psychol 98, 146-159.


Carter TJ & Gilovich T. (2012). I am what I do, not what I have: the differential centrality of experiential and material purchases to the self. J Pers Soc Psychol 102, 1304-1317.


Van Boven L & Gilovich T. (2003). To do or to have? That is the question. J Pers Soc Psychol 85, 1193-1202.



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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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