The Secret To Happiness Just Changed: Reject Luxury
Our shower is leaking.
There’s a big hole in our kitchen ceiling (where the water dripped through a light socket — never a good sign). I hoped that would reveal the cause, but it didn’t. So now we’re in a no man’s land where we don’t know what the problem is, let alone the solution.
So we have baths, for the first time in years. I love it.
Washing is now not all about efficiency but enjoyment. Standing and washing in a shower feels urgent. If I spend too long, I feel guilty. In a bath, it feels like my duty to relax.
When we moved into our home, there was no dishwasher. A year later, there’s still no dishwasher because I’ve fallen in love with washing up. It’s meditative, process-driven, and you come out with a tangible result a few minutes later.
It is all very soothing to my brain.
What is happening to me?
Yes, I’m getting old, I know that, but there’s more going on here.
Look, I don’t want to write about Coronavirus, and you don’t want to read about it.
I get it.
But, acknowledge the world is changing at a pace quicker than any of us have seen in our lives.
I walked through my city center today. It was dead. The potential for regeneration didn’t look promising. I saw shop windows with expensive items, but nothing appealed to me.
Perhaps when the world is in crisis, it’s natural to hold on closer to what we already have. To appreciate simple, free things more — family, friends, food, heat, love, connection.
I used to think that luxury equals success.
Drive a big car, and you have status. Drive a big car now, and it looks like you don’t care about the planet. That’s a good thing.
I recently downsized my car to a far simpler and cheaper model, but it wasn’t only a climate guilt thing. I genuinely wanted a less flashy, and more efficient vehicle.
The appeal of luxury has now transformed into an appreciation of simplicity.
I left the corporate world just over two years ago. That sounds like I had a big job in finance, earning millions, but that’s not the case.
I’d worked in various media organizations over the years and had some success, but the last job — where the bottom line informed EVERY decision — that one pushed me over the edge.
It came down to time for me. I was spending all my time either doing my job or worrying about my job. Yes, I was earning money, but at what cost? So we come to that cliche (I’m a fan of them, unlike many):
“Time is money” — Benjamin Franklin
No — they work entirely differently.
You can’t splurge time. You can’t go on a spending spree throwing extra hours away in an instant. And we all know that no amount of money buys more time.
Time goes at its own constant pace. It can’t be held back or released like money can.
Subconsciously, I feel I’ve aligned my approach to money with that concept.
I need an amount to keep my world turning and keep the clock ticking. But — and here’s the crucial thing — I’ve learned that the amount I need is far less than the world wants me to feel I need.
So I reject luxury.
When I left my last job, I became a stay-at-home Dad and the full-time carer to our kids. After a year, they were a bit older, and I started my own business. All that time, my wife worked full time.
Both of us in that period came to understand a lot more about what time and money meant to us.
Our luxuries started to lean towards time.
Can we get away for a weekend on our own if the grandparents are kind enough to take the kids? Can we save up for a big family trip to take the kids to see long lost friends who live far away?
So now time equals success.
Could this be why I now feel luxury in different ways? A bath feels luxurious because I spend time relaxing without guilt. After all, a bath should take a long time. It should be enjoyable.
In the city center today, I had the opportunity to buy myself an expensive coffee. I thought I would want one. But when I walked past the cafe, I had no desire to buy one.
Instead, I looked forward to returning home and making one myself. I wanted the comfort of the process and the coziness of home as much as the drink itself.
I’m rejecting luxury. I’m attracted to simplicity.
It doesn’t feel like the world can afford luxury right now. There is a re-ordering going on, and it is our experience to try and make sense of it.
My advice is to work out what is truly important to you and find value, enjoyment, and luxury in devoting yourself to those simple things.
I will get around to fixing my shower, but for now, I don’t mind looking at the hole.