“Life becomes simpler when our lives become calmer.” —Andy Puddicombe
With the first sighting of the word luxury or luxurious, the collective default tends to be toward excess. After all, the history of the word, stretching back to its Latin roots doesn’t exactly have a benign connotation. The word has morphed and been tweaked regarding its meaning over the centuries until where we find it today, becoming a descriptor of something that is difficult to attain. Marketing companies have been quite successful in commandeering the word to describe extravagant travel experiences, ginormous homes, and lifestyle and clothing labels to display one’s supposed wealth to all that can see.
However, luxury is a concept, not a concrete ‘thing’ that can be held in the hands or seen singularly as the same entity by all who pass by. Luxury is undefinable as a physical entity because it isn’t one thing, and it is not a state of being you can buy or someone else can buy or give to you.
To bring ease and comfort, to be something seen as unnecessary and experienced less often. The definition of luxury wavers a bit, but generally stays in the same vantage point of something not expected to be attained all the time by everyone. Hmmm.
In the first chapter of my second book – Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self — the definition of True Luxury is explored in-depth. Interior designer Jasper Morrison’s quote guides the discussion sharing how the term luxury has become “an excuse for a lack of common sense” regarding products, handbags, house and hotels.
What true luxury must include is an awareness by the person seeking out what they see as luxurious. Both parts of the defintion “a state of great comfort and ease or something that is difficult to obtain”. Even if something is hard to obtain, if it doesn’t bring you comfort and ease, it cannot be truly luxurious.
Yet another interior designer, Kerri Lipsitz describes luxury as “something that makes life easier”. What makes life easier for you may have no bearing on the ease it would provide in someone else’s life.
True luxury doesn’t land in our lap, pre-packaged, but rather through conscious living, self-awareness followed by an appreciation for quality, not quantity. Your luxuries will be different than someone else’s if you are wholly aware of your full potential and true self (listen to episode #307).
Enter simple living.
Simplifying your life will not eliminate all stressors, but it will help you to become clear about what stressors are not necessary. Naz Beheshti shares in her book Pause. Breathe. Choose.: Become the CEO of your well-being, “Unnecessary stress clouds our mind and judgment, hindering us from making the right decisions for ourselves, our relationships, our career, our finances, and so on. One wrong decision can lead to another, creating a potentially catastrophic domino effect.” While stress is “natural and evitable”, she writes, “clearing your life of the stress that can be identiftied as negative or unnecessary . . . [allows you to have] a clear and sharp mind [letting] you see the bigger picture and the consequences of each choice.”
Enter choosing to focus on quality rather than quantity.
When we finally choose to grapple with and then finally and clearly grasp the finite nature of our lives and therefore each day and each year, the truth of quality superceding quantity becomes easier to embrace. Why? We don’t know how many more days or years we will have the good fortune to live (quantity), so choosing to make those days and years we are fortunate to have be fulfilling and in and especially in the most ordinary moments (quality) logically makes more sense. We have more control over the quality than we do the quantity of our lives.
12 Benefits of Seeking Out Quality, epsiode #174
How do we begin to improve the quality of our days?
1.Accept the awesome responsibility to be courageous and vulnerable at the same time.
2. Focus on your well-being rather than what you ‘should’ be pursuing as defined by outside sources (I will talk more about the topic of well-being in a later podcast episode, but to explore on your own now, I highly recommend this book)
3. Realize how quality purchases and investments – concrete and relational – give you more ease and more time to be fully present and engaged in the life you love living.
7. Slow down and spend time assessing how you feel and why you feel the way you do, especially if you don’t like the way you feel or how you are engaging with others
I wanted to end with #7 on the list today because upon reflection in my own life, and as I am working on my third book which is part memoir of my own journey to living fully simply luxuriously, it is hard to admit, but without the pandemic, I don’t know when I would have been able to clearly acknowledge, I needed to shift into a new chapter and conclude my teaching career in order to focus fully and entirely on TSLL (I talk more about my decision here and here).
Due to being so incredibly busy for five years, my ability to slow down long enough to assess why parts of my life felt incongruent while others were flourishing was not possible (even though I could not see this truth at the time). The pause that the pandemic provided in my life gave me time to breathe (as Naz Beheshti shares in her book’s title and her guiding practice for how to move forward well in our lives) in order for me to choose well to live a life that was fully prioritizing my well-being.
Described as the wellness gap: when we neglect our well-being, or when we believe that success means sacrificing our self-care, we are not living simply, we are simply living, and if we aren’t living simply, we are not able to be present in order to make the best decisions for a life that will serve where we wish to go and how we wish to experience our time.
True luxury is a gift we not only give ourselves but those around us and the larger world as we have something unique and awesome the world will benefit from. When we have the opportunity to welcome true luxury into our lives, it is not something we case aside easily or quickly, because we have made the decision with awareness knowing how our lives were different without the ease and comfort this new luxury brings.
For me, time to think well in order to make the best decisions for my life now and moving forward is a luxury I do not take for granted. Flavorful, seasonal food is a luxury I savor due to its evanescence and satisfying and healthy qualities. Strong, respectful, kind relationships are a luxury which take time to build and require both engaged to be self-aware and emotionally intelligent individuals. Having a home in a town which took 35 years in order to be a resident is a luxury.
Your luxuries will be unique to your life journey. If you are living with awareness, if you are choosing to learn about yourself, if you are brave and also vulnerable in order to learn new skills and see different perspectives as well as connect sincerely with others, you will begin to gradually see what you need in your life and what you can let go (sometimes what you must let go), and this is the simplifying of life, thereby enabling you to live simply luxuriously. A life of true contentment experienced every single day.
Explore further how to begin living a simply luxurious life . . .
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