I was inspired to write this after an admittedly silly, albeit adorable, moment with my Pomeranian. While in the kitchen washing a few dishes, he walked up to his bowl to get a drink of water. Then, out of the blue, began to spin in a circle…before drinking more water again. I just had to laugh and smile. I had no clue why he did it. He probably doesn’t know himself. He does all sorts of strange, random things at times, but it got me thinking about how enjoyable the simple things in life can be for us when we simply take the time to notice them.
We are bombarded by all manners of stimuli on, not just a daily basis, but moment after moment. Even as I write this, my Internet radio just played some random ad that I barely paid attention to and yet, I’m sure I’ll recognize it the next time I hear it. When you drive around, there are billboards advertising everything from McDonald’s to fancy vacations. When I saw my family watching Project Runway a few days back, the program that used to be an hour long now runs for an hour and thirty simply due to the sheer amount of ads that they play. Even at work, I get calls with automated messages about buying this or that.
Of course, this is far from being a new issue. Undoubtedly, many of us have grown accustomed to constantly hearing how we “need” this or that. Thankfully, there’s a bit of a movement developing against the almost out-of-control consumerism in the country. Even so, while it’s all well and good to fight against the urge to shop and spend on all of these superfluous things, without a solution to a problem, you’re going to find yourself stuck.
That’s what the gist of this post is about. The solution to the problem of dealing with the unnecessary and excess is by appreciating the little joys in life that happen just as often as McDonald’s plays a commercial. All we have to do is keep our eyes and ears open for them.
I’ll give you a scenario that occurred not too long ago when my cousin, his girlfriend, and I went to the beach. Miami beach is obviously not the sort of place where you go to enjoy simple (aka affordable) pleasures in life, but these two managed to find a way. While at the beach, plane after plane flew overhead, advertising concerts and shops and restaurants. It’s much in line with the atmosphere you find at the beach. You go there to buy things, to look beautiful for other people, people who don’t and likely never will know your name. But while all this garbage is going on around us, those two were wrapped up in each other and more concerned about including me than they were about which hot and happening restaurant we should have lunch at. All the while, I just found it encouraging that, dispute everything being offered to them around us, they were already content with what and who they had.
I guess it’s inevitable that I’m going to harp on this a little longer (and I apologize in advance of you reading the rest of this sentence), but their attitude was in stark contrast to the attitude of my ex. I used to shower her in all sorts of materialistic trinkets, from expensive trinkets to customized stuffed pillows. As I mentioned, she was never satisfied, often demanding more and, during one particularly nasty occasion, referred to all my gifts as cheap and worthless.
She was never happy and I am thoroughly convinced that, among the plethora of other reasons involved, her materialism (despite claiming she wasn’t) also played a role.
And that’s the problem with wanting things. You will never have enough and never be satisfied. You will work for years and years of your life for things that you might possibly not even live long enough to possess, all the while losing out on opportunities to spend time with family, or just grabbing a beer with a close friend.
I’m not saying there is something inherently evil when it comes to giving into indulgences. It’s great to splurge sometimes and “treat” yourself (I am LOVING my wireless surround sound system), but if you are constantly treating yourself, it stops feeling like a treat and begins to feel more like an expectation.
So it’s good to balance yourself out by learning how to enjoy the everyday. During a gentle rain, instead of complaining about being stuck in doors, let the pitter patter calm and sooth you. I know some people claim they just don’t like it. I used to be one of those people who “just doesn’t like it,” but when you shut off your mind, focus on your breath, and just listen to those tiny droplets beat against your window…I swear, it’s like you stop having a single problem at all in the world.
I know what I’m suggesting isn’t exactly easy. I could ask a hundred people what’s one of their biggest concerns at the moment and, chances are, it’s going to be “money.” But based on our society’s present culture, you can already infer as to why that might be on a lot of people’s minds. Still, when you take the time to just enjoy a beautiful blue day or hang at a friend’s house watching old movies on VHS instead of going on a shopping spree at Ross or trying to increase your credit line just to get that 60 inch flat screen television you’ve been eying for months, your money woes start to dissipate.
Why is that, you might ask. Because while a new Beamer can cost you an arm and a leg, going for an evening stroll with your significant other is typically going to be free. Granted, that all depends on what that lover of yours expects from you in return 😛
But if you need a little more help in the matter, here are some things that we often take for granted due to our society’s inherent materialism. Fight the urge to spend on tickets for opening night at the theater, and give some of these suggestions a try instead:
- Just breathe- Starting with the simplest thing we humans can do, take the time to sit back, relax, and breathe. Focus on nothing else but your breathing, the enjoyment of it, the very fact alone that you can still do it. Yes, this is basically meditation and yes, it works so long as you give it a chance and stop trying to convince yourself it doesn’t.
- Go for a stroll- Regardless of whether or not people still even refer to walking around aimlessly as a stroll, give this a shot. Winter is coming up and, thankfully, it’s actually getting a little cooler in Miami. So, after a long day at the office, find a nice park and walk a bit. Don’t think about walking in a specific direction or to a specific location. Just walk.
- Hang out with your friends at home- Their home, your home. It doesn’t matter. The key here is to shy away from feeling the need to constantly go out and spend money just to hang out with friends. I know I’ve personally fallen into the habit of going out just to hang out. It’s important to realize that’s unnecessary.
- Play with your pets, your kids, younger siblings, etc.– These days I’ve actually realized how much I enjoy playing with that little ball of fur I mentioned initially. If you’ve got pets, spend a little more time with them. If you have children, really evaluate how much time you take out of your day to do simple things with them like coloring or building couch forts. Seriously, how much fun are couch forts?…Yes, I’m 24 years old. Why are you asking?
This is just a starting point. I’m not going to spoon feed everything to you, after all. Besides, I’m still learning to enjoy all the simple pleasures life has to offer myself. Really, with everything we can technically do that doesn’t involve spending heaps of cash or wasting hours upon hours to earn said cash, this is the sort of thing you never stop learning.
So that’s enough of you being on the Internet. Move away from the computer for a bit, put down the wallet, and quit fretting over every little thing. It’s time we all realize just how wonderful the deceptively simple things in life can really be. 🙂