Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
In each September birthday month letter I move away from the harder core health and fitness messages to the softer core philosophy of life thoughts and ideas as seen through my lens. I’ll admit that my lens isn’t a typical one and it may not be your lens, but I can’t help getting more philosophical the older I get. I did immerse myself in studying philosophy during my 20’s, but somehow it takes a bit of living for all that brain activity to sink into the heart!
Ah yes, what a year it has been. Of travel, of work, of life’s ups and downs, and of tiny luxuries.
One focus for me has been appreciating what I call tiny luxuries. Preparing most of the meals I eat, for instance. Food shopping is actually the only kind of shopping I enjoy. Taking the time, not just to try new recipes, but to prepare something nice no matter how long the prep time is, and then to sit and enjoy what’s been prepared…….I consider this to be a luxury. Taking the time and very consciously nourishing myself is a top value of mine.
I’ve been shoring up some skills I’ve been missing. Taking the time to do this, though the benefits won’t be tiny, feels like a luxury to me. One example is that I’m actually learning how to type. It’s a long embarrassing story as to why I don’t know how to type (my typing speed score stands at an abysmal 27 words per minute). And you’d think with all the writing and hours I spend plugging away at the keyboard I’d have learned how to type years ago, but I never did. Tiny luxury of time and focus that will pay off for me big time.
Another tiny luxury focus has been frequently taking long walks with no destination in mind, allowing myself to follow whatever catches my attention. I always do this when I travel, and now I’m taking these types of walks when I’m home as well. Sometimes I end up at a coffee shop I didn’t know about, or discover a museum or store. Mostly I just meander through neighborhoods letting my mind wander and my senses explore.
We’re trained from an early age to associate the word ‘”luxury” with the spending of money, with extravagance and overconsumption. But the world, and my life, is full of tiny luxuries: indulgences of the sort I mentioned that are easy to overlook if you’re not seeking them out and paying close attention. I recognize that not everyone will be so greatly pleased by cooking, shoring up missing skills, and taking long walks, but most of us have an abundance of potential interests, of activities, of intellectual and physical pursuits with which we might joyously fill our lives. We need only to take some time away from the work we do, as meaningful as it may be, to bring tiny luxuries into greater focus. I’m making sure I don’t expend massive amounts of time, energy, and other resources pursuing things I’ve been trained to want, but which may not actually benefit me from owning or experiencing. Not enough to balance out the price I pay to acquire them, at least.
These days I do think about and share with you quite a lot about minimalism. Just as minimalism isn’t about owning as little as possible, but rather owning exactly the right things and no more than that. The key is to identify what’s actually important to you, what actually makes you happy, what actually feels luxurious to you, and to pursue those things with the same ambition you might typically reserve for an expensive car or flashy new gadget. Most of us, for many reasons, aren’t brought up to pay proper attention to these sorts of things, so it can take time to identify our actual, right-sized, YOU-shaped luxuries.
But as I’ve found out in the past few years, that time investment is worthwhile. And even if you don’t already know what might fulfill you in this way, it’s never too late to learn. That’s an essential ah-ha, too.
Life is an amazing experiment. Take note of the things you’d like to explore further and the little passions you’re keen to cultivate. Allow yourself to periodically indulge in the smaller, simpler, strangely enjoyable aspects of life. Then, begin to assess which of your goals aren’t really your goals: look at them one by one and allow yourself to consider that they may be inherited ambitions, rather than something you yourself dreamed up.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not at all dismissing conventional milestones and traditional symbols of achievement. Heck, I already went out for my birthday dinner celebration and my birthday isn’t for another week yet! For me it’s more about rewiring your internal reward systems coupled with your desire to grow and flourish, so that they better align with your actual priorities and dreams, rather than someone else’s. Find your own tiny luxuries and enjoy them with all your heart!
I have so much appreciation for all of you who read the Joyinmovement newsletters, who write me with your comments and questions, and who support both my work and my passions. You have given me the best “job” in the world. No matter where my next year of life takes me, I’m grateful for having you with me on this journey!