Collect Moments Not Things

Recently I heard a comment that really resonated with me and made me think about the “value’ we put on things and the reasons why we value possessions so much.

The comment was about ‘collecting moments not things’, which when you stop to think about it, goes against all the core principles of being a family historian. However there is a caveat with that, we collect what we consider are heirlooms and family treasures, which to another person, will have no monetary value whatsoever, the items we collect are priceless in their sentimental value.

By breaking down the original comment into how I interpreted it, I believe that the author of the quote was saying that we should give up our ‘possessions’ in exchange for spending time with family and friends and building those bonds and making those special moments together. By doing that we are collecting the moments and building the memories, rather than focusing on the material things that others might possibly want. I also think, as you get older, what you want from life changes, your values alter with age and the things that you might have thought were important growing up, seem less important now.


Life is an ever changing entity, it never stands still, the clock is always ticking, that’s why we need to make sure that we value and enjoy the important things. Sometimes it’s about striking a balance and it’s not always easy to get that balance right. The pace of life moves so quickly but unless we stop and take stock of things, in the blink of an eye it’s gone. Sometimes there is a life defining moment that brings about the change, but not always. Sometimes we need to take back control ourselves and become the person to make the change. I often make the analogy that life can feel like you’re on a runaway train, there is no driver and your life is just following the tracks, when it feels like that, it’s time to apply the brake, slow the train down and take back control.

Of course we remember the special gifts that we receive, but I’m sure we remember the shared moments together more, the conversations and the laughter will be etched in our memories forever. Lasting joy doesn’t come from objects, it comes from experiences. Our brains are like living scrapbooks; they collect moments in time, frame them, and revisit them constantly. When I am on holiday I always stand and look out to sea and pause to hold that moment and memory to keep forever.

We all look back from time to time and and wish we had done something differently, or made a different choice, but we rarely regret those precious moments that we have made with our loved ones and friends. But in a world that’s so materialistic, how do we make that switch?

Think of it like this, you might not get a phone signal walking in the forest but you will “feel better connected” with those around you instead. Set yourself some small goals such as walking with friends and family once a week, it doesn’t have to be far and doesn’t cost you a penny. Next time you’re in town, look up not down, take notice of the buildings, the architecture and the skyline, most days we are far too busy to even notice what’s right in front of us. It might be winter right now, but plan some fun things to do for when the better weather arrives. It doesn’t have to be genealogy related, but planning a road trip can be a fun thing to do.


Every time you are about to buy that one thing that you don’t really need, but just ‘want’, stop and put that money in a tin instead and put that money to good use in enjoying an experience instead. Make that extra effort to phone that friend of relative that you have been promising yourself for ages, instead of putting it off because you’re ‘far too busy’. Take time out to listen to people when you ask them how they are. We all ask this question to our friends, work colleagues and family, but do we actually really listen to the answer and are we absolutely certain that when they say they are ok, that they truly are?

Test yourself, try something new every once in a while! A bit extreme, but I did a parachute jump around ten years ago, it doesn’t have to be anything like that, but try something you haven’t done before or for a long time. Sometimes it’s good to be outside your comfort zone for a while. It could be something as simple as attending a zoom meeting at your local family history society, it might seem daunting at first, but you’ll be surprised how easy and enjoyable these meetings are. Also don’t take on too much, we are all guilty of that sometimes, it is ok to say ‘No’ sometimes, give yourself some ‘me’ time as well.

There are lots of different ideas and ways in which we can all gain a little bit of control back, we are all different and so what inspires us and makes us happy will be as individual as we are, but it’s not about what we choose to do, it’s about that we do make that extra effort to break away from the norm. Believe me, this is not about me preaching from the moral high ground, far from it, i just think that as you get older you begin to realise what’s important in life.

Life is filled with ups and downs and life is fluid and never stands still, the key to a happy and maybe richer way of life is to stop every once in a while and take stock of things. It’s far too easy to keep getting back on the treadmill, sometimes we need to break the mould and do something completely different or something that just makes you happy.


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16 thoughts on “Collect Moments Not Things

  1. Paul, I also think about those special moments that connect me with relatives and, earlier, with ancestors I actually met and knew…and then of the special moments they might have had with their ancestors. If only the stories of those old-time moments had been captured and passed down through the generations. Sigh. But now we’re making new special memories! Thanks for this thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank Marian, I think the recent move has made me feel a little more philosophical and I have probably created more memorable moments in the last five weeks than I had in the previous five years. Sometimes we need to take stock of things.


  2. Your story really resonates with me. My parents didn’t have much and I have very few items by which I can remember them. What I have though are stories and memories of my time spent with them. I always enjoy what you write.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Tonya that’s very kind of you to say that. I think your parents grew up in a similar way to my own, we didn’t have much either as a family, but we spent so much time together. As a child I have so many find memories of the time we spent together and sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s the little things that count not what car you’ve got etc


  3. Thanks for sharing this Paul. My blog last month had a similar sentiment – researching family history for me has led to so many wonderful conversations – more valuable than things in my opinion too 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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