Give An Experience, Make A Difference

The red sweater or the blue? Jacket or laptop? We all love to give and receive gifts, yet it can be hard to remember specific presents from each year. People seem to increasingly value experiences over tangible items – a trend that enhances lives and makes gift-giving more meaningful for everyone.

Whether it’s a week at the beach with a grandchild, the vow to climb Kilimanjaro together, or Sunday bike rides for a year, experiences become lasting memories with powerful ripple effects. Now more than ever, giving an experience based in wellness can spark renewal and change the course of someone’s future.

Canyon Ranch Director of Spiritual Wellness Stephanie Ludwig, PhD, MDiv, MA, talks about the benefits of giving and receiving wellness experiences:

The staying power of experience
An experience gift lasts long beyond the moment of giving and includes the pleasures of planning, preparing, and looking forward to something special. Then there’s the excitement of road-tripping with an annual US National Parks pass, rafting down the Colorado River, or connecting with nature at Canyon Ranch. An experience takes a person out of their everyday routine and into another world. It’s not a gift that you own, it’s a gift that you live.

“Immersing ourselves in the beauty of nature evokes awe and replenishes us when we most need it,” says Ludwig. “What greater gift could you give?”

Inspire someone
Everyone benefits from special inspiration for greater wellness, especially during times of uncertainty. Maybe someone has a talent worth developing or needs a boost to get back on a healthy track. An online writing course may be the start of a great novel, and a person who’s been struggling with weight could find solutions with expert guidance. Giving an experience is not about telling someone what to do; it’s opening doors of possibility.

Something to share
You can’t share new skis, jewelry, or hiking boots as a gift, but you can explore the Appalachian Trail or take a cooking class together. An experience takes on deeper meaning when you connect in joyful moments, give each other a hand, and just spend time together. A busy couple can reconnect on a much-needed getaway. Mother and daughter will learn about each other in different ways by experiencing something new to both of them.

Everyone benefits
Giving an experience is a gift to all involved. According to the Journal of Consumer Research, “… experiential gifts produce greater improvements in relationship strength than material gifts.” They also point to benefits whether or not the giver and receiver share the experience. The relationship is reinforced naturally by an intensity of emotion that comes with the actual experience, which goes beyond the more fleeting, although genuine, gratitude for tangible gifts.

Creating memories
Experiences become part of a person’s story. They can change minds, open hearts, and improve lives.

“When you give an experience, you become part of the gift,” Ludwig says. “You may not know the full impact of your gift until years later, when that experience is still enriching somebody’s life. When it’s the story that gets told around the firepit, the tale that inspires yet another person. That special gift remains alive as a cherished memory.”

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