Live the Life You’ve Always Dreamed About
Feel stuck in a routine, like life is a hamster wheel you can’t get off? Does one day slip into the next, and before you know it years pass by and you wonder where the time went? Good news—you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to Life and Whim, a community for those who aspire to live exciting, purposeful, and intentional lives—one small moment at a time.
We are Jay and Heather Harrington, the husband and wife team behind Life and Whim. We know what it's like to want more out of life, but feel stuck not knowing where to start or how to make changes that will move you toward your dreams.
Several years ago, we decided to throw caution to the wind, and packed up our family and moved from the suburbs of a big city to a small town in northern Michigan. We wanted a simpler, slower life, easier access to the great outdoors, and the mental, emotional, and financial space to live in accordance with our priorities and in pursuit of our passions.
What we learned throughout this journey is the essence of Life and Whim's message. The biggest lesson of all is that no matter your circumstances, where you live, or what life has thrown at you, you can live a meaningful life on your terms. Nothing is stopping you other than your own limiting beliefs about what's possible.
The key to it all? Through life experience and lots of research, we've learned that the best way to live a long, happy life is to prioritize having more experiences over having more things. But not just any experiences; the ones that matter most are those born of "First Moments."
For lots of different reasons, which we dive into in detail throughout this site, we get stuck in routines as we get older. While childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood are times full of exciting new experiences—First Moments like learning to ride a bike, a first kiss, a first trip abroad, and the birth of a first child—we experience fewer and fewer First Moments as we get older. We form habits, get into ruts, and lose some of the zest for life that we had when we were younger. Life becomes monotonous. Days drag, while years fly by.
Sound familiar? It doesn't have to be this way. We know this from our own experience, and it's a message we want to spread and share through Life and Whim.
While we can’t stop the passage of time, we can mold our perception of it. We can interrupt the patterns of our lives by introducing more novelty and new experiences into them, and create more memories and meaning as a result. We can provide ourselves and our families a life rich with purpose.
There's another way to move forward. There's a better way to live. It's through the magic of more First Moments.
11 Reasons Why First Moments Matter
Troves of academic and psychological research conducted over the last several decades has proven that living the "good life," full of purpose and fulfillment, comes from investing in life experiences, and not material possessions. The most meaningful moments are First Moments. Here's why First Moments matter:
They create lasting memories. A number of studies have been conducted in which older adults have been asked to recall their most vivid memories. Overwhelmingly, these memories relate to experiences that took place from ages 15 to 25. This phenomenon is called the “reminiscence bump.” Memories of middle age and the later stages of life are not nearly as rich and crisp. For most of us, it's because we stop engaging in as many First Moments as we did during our youth.
They slow life down. David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and author who studies how our brains perceive time. In an article in the New Yorker, he explains that our brains process familiar information quickly. But when new information is introduced, such as during a First Moment experience, it takes our brains longer to organize and synthesize the data, making the experience more memorable and time (appear to) slow down.
They help us learn and grow. There is a concept in psychology called the “mere exposure effect” that biases us toward familiarity. It’s a survival mechanism built into us as a result of our evolutionary past. Mere survival is far less a concern in our modern world, but we still tend toward familiarity. It’s what gets us stuck in the rut of routine, especially as we get older. But to grow we need to change, and to change we need to grow, which is best accomplished through trying new things at every stage of life.
They help us to develop passions, hobbies, and traditions. First Moments lead to more meaningful moments. By trying new things we come to understand what we're passionate about, what we have aptitude for, and what brings our lives meaning. First Moments, therefore, often turn into lifelong traditions and hobbies. "Vita non est vivere sed valere vita eat" is a Latin phrase that translates to: "Life is more than merely staying alive." We agree. Life is about having more First Moments.
They shift our focus from things to experiences. Numerous studies have shown that the more people pursue materialistic goals, the less happy and satisfied they are in life. On the other hand, those who meet their basic material needs, and then prioritize having more experiences, are happier and more content. In fact, research proves that merely thinking about engaging in an experience, versus thinking about purchasing a physical object, leads to significantly more positive feelings.
They bring joy to others. As parents, we all want to leave a legacy of meaningful memories and traditions to our children and grandchildren. Generations to come won't remember us by the stuff we leave behind, but rather by the stories, memories, and lore that we generate during our lifetimes. Engaging in more First Moments allows us to leave an inheritance to our kids far more valuable and enduring than any physical good or financial bequest.
They help ward off regret. Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse for many years, wrote a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. In it she chronicled the regrets of those at the end of their lives. The most common regret: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Rarely do we regret the things we do as much as the things we never tried. By planning more First Moments into your life, you can age with contentment knowing that you left nothing on the table.
They create "pleasant" and "happy" anticipation. First Moments are not only pleasurable "in the moment"—there's considerable happiness derived from the First Moment planning process itself. Research shows that planning for and anticipating an experience creates more feelings of happiness, pleasantness, and excitement than planning and waiting for a purchase of a material good.
They leave a residue of happiness in their wake. Buying something often leads to "buyer's remorse." We regret our decision to consume almost immediately after making it. The opposite is true of new experiences. Research shows that our impression of experiences actually improves over time. We tend to overlook any negative aspects of experiences (those pesky mosquitoes at the campsite, for example) and accentuate the positive (time spent singing and storytelling around the campfire).
They foster relationships. Studies have shown that there is a negative stereotype of people who are "materialistic," but a positive one of those who are perceived as "experiential." People enjoy spending time and conversing with people who elevate the importance of experiences over material things.
They keep our minds sharp. Want to stay at the top of your game throughout life? Engage in more First Moments. Research shows that having new experiences and learning new skills is one of the most important factors in maintaining memory and cognitive ability throughout life. Taking on new challenges strengthens entire networks in the brain.
Imagine a life full of more First Moments, with a focus on the people, causes, and passions that matter most to you. It’s within your grasp, but not without a bit of planning and effort. Our mission at Life and Whim is to help you create the space and time necessary to live big through small moments.
We are particularly passionate about children, and believe that the more time kids spend outside hiking in forests, skiing down mountains, and frolicking on beaches, the more they grow and prosper. First Moments can happen anywhere, but we're especially interested in the ones that take place in nature. The great outdoors inspires greatness in all of us.
We started Life and Whim after moving our family to Traverse City, a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan, to "break the script" on our life and reimagine what's possible. We live in pursuit of a purposeful, meaningful, active, and simple life.
What began as a blog to share the lessons we learned from moving to a new place for a new life, has grown into a community and creative business that is our labor of love. We hope it is a source of inspiration and insight for you as well.