- Environment & Community
Life lessons: Interview with James Wallman
The international bestselling author James Wallman teaches people to glean the most from life by using every moment to its fullest.
After studying an MA in Classics at the University of Oxford and then in Journalism at the University of the Arts London, he went on to write two books about the way we spend our time. The first, Stuffocation, explores how, as a society, we have moved from buying ‘things’ to buying ‘experiences’. His second, Time and How to Spend It, details seven steps to achieve a happier existence. Everyone, from the likes of KPMG to Facebook, has called upon his astute insight and now it’s our turn at Carrier.
How does buying ‘things’ have a negative impact?
It turns out that whenever we buy more stuff we just throw it away. The average person in the UK throws away around 400kg of waste each year; 7 times their body weight. For every bag they throw away, another 70 bags of waste have been created to make the products in it.
But now there is a move from buying ‘things’ to buying ‘experiences’, why is that?
Our experiences used to be invisible. Consumers show their status through what they buy, so a few years ago when people used to go on holiday they would buy a new bag or a souvenir from the place that they had just visited. Social media suddenly made our experiences visible and developed a new way to show our status.
Now that we invest in experiences are we happier?
Lots of people striving to be successful are not happy. If you aim to be happy you are more likely to be successful. Spending money on experiences rather than stuff is more likely to make you happy. But you have to be careful which experiences you choose. There are ‘junk food’ experiences and ‘super food’ experiences. You know that junk food isn’t good for you – it gives you bad skin – so you eat less. Super foods are better for you, for your brain, hair and nails, so you eat more. The same goes for experiences. Spending too much time on your own sitting in front of the TV won’t bring you much happiness, whereas time spent with a friend playing tennis will. Reconciling this right course of action is important. That is why calling on the advice of experts, such as Carrier, ensures that every experience is tailored to your needs so that time is spent in the most fulfilling way possible.
What pointers can you give us when we look for our next holiday?
Try something that is challenging, like white water rafting, for a positive change. Holidays that are out of the ordinary create memories, shared moments and set us up for a creative future. Don’t just spend time around the pool, but find activities to do together with your family, friends or partner.
What’s been your most recent fulfilling experience?
I went sailing in Croatia during the summer. It ticked all the boxes of my seven steps in Time and How to Spend It. I’m a really average sailor but I can make a yacht move, so I put myself forward for some races. I lost every one. The wind was all over the place and I capsized about 15-20 times. Every evening my fellow sailors would share their stories and compare techniques – I began to improve. I was surrounded by beautiful mountains and I wasn’t checking my phone. I was a part of something that expanded my sense of self and what I can achieve.
You can purchase 'Time And How To Spend it' from all good book stores