5 ways to create more fulfilling experiences

15 May 2019

“Time is what we want most but what we use worst” -- William Penn

Did you know that the average Brit gets more than five hours of leisure time each day? Yet many of us don’t feel like we do. When we answer work emails during our free time, or check our phones while we play with our children, we cease to spend our leisure time efficiently. And when we aren't really experiencing it fully, it stops feeling like leisure time.

In his best-selling book Time and How to Spend It, James Wallman brings together original stories, fascinating anecdotes, and insights from psychology, science and culture to reveal how we can fill our precious spare time with fulfilling and meaningful experiences.

Here are some of his key tips:

Get outside and offline

Studies have shown that spending time in nature lowers our heart rate and blood pressure, reduces stress and improves happiness. We’re happier outside because we’re more likely to be carrying out some form of exercise, and exercise improves our mood.

It’s therefore more important than ever that we take some time to turn off our digital devices and tune in to real life instead by taking the time to get outdoors and experience nature.  

Be present in the moment

To fully experience a moment, in body and mind, we need to look around and breathe it in, adopting mindfulness as a technique to get the most out of every experience.

To reduce our distractions, try making your bedroom a no-phone zone, turning off notifications and locking your phone away to free yourself from the tech trap.

Use travel to grow and develop

We can achieve different types of personal development from the time we spend travelling, and we can divide our travel experiences into three different categories:

  • Fly and flop, in which doing nothing gives us time to relax and refresh ourselves
  • Find and seek, in which we go exploring and sightseeing to develop, whether close to home or far away
  • Go and become, where we achieve personal growth by, for example, learning how to cook authentic Szechuan cuisine, or walking the Camino de Santiago

All three types of trip can give us fulfilling experiences and stories, and one trip may allow us to do all three at the same time.

Build relationships

One in five adults in Britain say they’re always or often lonely, and this loneliness can negatively impact health. Getting out and experiencing the world not only helps us to create relationships in the moment, but also to grow relationships through the stories we can tell on our return.

When we have an experience in the world, we create a domino line of positivity, in which experiences give us stories, stories give us conversation, conversation creates connection, connection leads to relationships, and relationships lead to happiness.

It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it

Take time to think about what you really want to get out of your experiences before they happen. How do you want the experience to challenge you personally? If you plan your experiences, it can affect how you carry them out and allow you to make the most of them when you are in the moment.

To find out more, check out James’s book here.


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