Why Life is Better When You Enjoy the Simple Things
But my tastes are actually very simple. I could probably live on sourdough bread, cheddar cheese, fresh seasonal fruit, and minestrone soup. My Starbucks order is a tall latte. My favorite outfit is black or dark wash jeans and a jewel-colored, three-quarter sleeve tee shirt. I love library books, crossword puzzles, and the classical music station. Give me a drizzly day and a wooded path and I'm in seventh heaven.
For a happy life, cultivate simple tastes.
A lot of people believe that if you're not striving for ever greater success, if you don't have an extensive bucket list, you can never be happy. I think they've got it wrong. If you want to be happy, you need to appreciate the things around you, the things you can enjoy every day. You won't be happy if you focus on what you don't have, and overlook all the good things you already possess.
I'm not saying it's bad to have a few extravagant pleasures. I've already admitted I have some. I'm not saying it's wrong to be ambitious, to have goals.
I'm suggesting we should look for happiness every day, not just on a few high points. What good is it to attain something if you can't savor your success? If every achievement simply pushes you to climb the next mountain, none of your accomplishments will make you happy. If every treat makes you impatient for more treats, you won't enjoy them any more. You won't look forward to your special experiences, and you won't pay attention to each detail when they occur. You'll be spending more and more money, but you won't get nearly the fun that you used to get when a treat experience was rare.
I appreciate a fancy dinner or a special trip when I have those opportunities, but for day-to-day living I have simple tastes.
5 benefits of a simple life
1. Every day is better.
Since I have simple tastes, they're easier to fulfill on a regular basis. If I could only be satisfied with the rarest and most exclusive, I'd either need to be very rich, deeply in debt, or constantly disappointed.
2. Decisions are easier.
As I wrote in "Why a Uniform Might Work for You," when you choose a simple, consistent wardrobe you save time, money, and energy, and you feel free, confident, and in control. When you cultivate simple tastes that let you enjoy plain Greek yogurt and granola for breakfast most mornings, or that make an hour of reading aloud your family's favorite evening activity, you're not pulled in six different directions trying to decide what to do or eat or buy. You don't keep second-guessing yourself. What a relief.
All of us live in a media-saturated world. It's hard to be unaware of fashions and fads. But when I cultivate simple tastes, I don't feel deprived if I don't own the latest must-have item. I'm satisfied continuing to use or wear what I already have, without feeling the need to run out and get something new simply for the sake of its newness and popularity.
4. I don't need to inflate my lifestyle.
Lifestyle inflation is the tendency we all have to increase spending on non-essentials when our income goes up. Of course, if you're struggling to support yourself, then a larger income which allows you to spend more is a relief. But if you're reading this, your lifestyle is probably similar to mine – comfortable.
When my income increases, I don't need to spend more if my tastes remain simple. I don't need to upgrade my electronics or my car or my house if I'm happy with my refurbished iPhone, my Kia sedan, and my cozy apartment.
5. I have the means for an occasional splurge.
If I don't spend money every time I'm tempted, I have more money to spend when something truly special comes along. I don't always remember this when I don't feel like cooking, or when Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte season arrives, but it's really a no-brainer.
When I keep daily expenses simple, and don't waste money on stuff I can live without, I have the means to indulge in memorable treats that matter to me.
I'm more grateful and contented when I keep my tastes simple. I think you will be too.
Maximum Gratitude: Find Happiness and Contentment Through the Habit of Giving Thanks, available on Amazon.*
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Updated September 2022