MINIMALIST TOOL KIT: Enjoy the Simple Things

Don't get me wrong.  I love the occasional filet mignon dinner.  I enjoy live theater.  It's wonderful to stay at Glendeven Inn on the Mendocino coast.

But my tastes are actually very simple.  I sometimes think I could live on sourdough bread, cheese, red seedless grapes, and minestrone soup.  My Starbucks order is a Cafe Misto (coffee with steamed milk).  My favorite outfit is dark wash jeans and a jewel colored, three-quarter sleeve v-neck 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.

A lot of people believe that if you're not constantly striving, 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 learn to appreciate the things around you, the things you can enjoy every day.  No one is happy who constantly fixates on what she doesn't have, while overlooking all of the good things already in her life.

For a happy life, cultivate simple tastes.

I'm not saying it's bad to have a few extravagant aspirations.  I've already admitted that I have some.  I'm not saying that it's wrong to be ambitious, to have goals.  I'm just suggesting we need to live happily 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 just makes you want to climb the next mountain, none of your accomplishments will make you happy.  If every treat just makes you want more treats, so that they become commonplace, you won't enjoy them anymore.  You won't anticipate your special experiences, and you won't pay attention to every 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.  I suggest you do the same.

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," choosing a simple, consistent wardrobe saves time, money, energy, and worry, and lets you feel free, confident, and in control.  When you cultivate simple tastes that let you enjoy an egg and toast for breakfast every morning (for example), or that make an hour of reading aloud your family's favorite evening activity, you aren't pulled in six different directions trying to decide what to do or eat or buy.  You aren't constantly second-guessing yourself.  What a relief.

3.  I'm not a slave to trends, brand names, or advertising.
All of us live in a media-saturated world.  It's hard to be completely unaware of whatever is fashionable right now.  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 to increase spending on non-essentials whenever your income goes up.  Obviously, if you can barely support yourself, then a larger income that allows you to spend more would be a relief.  But if you're reading this, chances are your current lifestyle is at the very least 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 on expensive treats every day, then I have more money to spend when I really want something special.  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 fritter away money on stuff I can live without, I have the means to indulge in the things that matter to me.

I'm more grateful and contented when I keep my tastes simple.  I think you will be too.

Photo by Roman Purtov on Unsplash


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