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” . . . To learn the habit of finding pleasure in the essentials of life and feeling gratitude for them. We’d like to think that, when they strike out on their own someday, they’ll have a clear sense of what they really need.” —Ben Sasse, author of The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis–and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance
Perhaps there is a nugget of gold in living a busy life, and that is recognizing what it feels like to be so overwhelmed a breath cannot be found, and upon shifting the busy out and finding a more balanced approach, becoming more appreciative of the essentials, the everyday moments that were too often overlooked and camouflaged by the mistaken assumption that something yet unachieved or attained was far grander.
Each early spring my life hits a gear I must admit I am not comfortable with. The speed and expectations are heightened and the workload intensifies. The silver-lining is knowing it is only temporary and what lies on the other side is a slower pace. While I contemplate how to tweak and adapt to eliminate the busy, I have come, each year, to further appreciate the essentials of living comfortably, albeit simply, but certainly well in such a way that I have deep gratitude for.
One of the gifts I was given as a child was an appreciation for the simple, the everyday, life essentials. I unconsciously became extremely fond of fresh air, cold, crisp water from the well, a sturdy roof over my head, a deep night’s sleep without interruption and homemade food on the table each night served with love and creativity. None of these daily experiences perk excitement or make headlines, but perhaps similar to the Slow TV movement, they were simple, beautiful and the foundation that when appreciated were found to have more beauty than any extravagance.
Each weekend, as I have shared before, my Sunday ritual is to dive into the newspapers. Without fail, each time there is at least one article that is worth sharing on my Twitter feed with followers. This past weekend it was Ben Sasse’s article “Perpetual Adolescence” which is an excerpt from his upcoming book mentioned above in the quote. Within the article he shares five broad themes that he and his wife try to instill in their children to override what he sees as a common unhealthy pattern with millennials. While all are salient points regardless of the child’s age or generation, his suggestion to teach children how to discern the difference between true want and need will serve them far better in a variety of life experiences as they move through life. And I couldn’t help but agree that it is in observing, valuing and cultivating a life composed of appreciation and care of the basics that we need everyday that we give ourselves a foundation to find peace no matter what life circumstances may toss our way.
“A nice warm shower, a cup of tea, and a caring ear may be all you need to warm your heart.” ― Charles F. Glassman
Lately I have been waking up with the birds chirping, no alarm clock necessary and being thankful for nature’s rhythm and comfort. As well, when it comes to nourishment, stepping into the kitchen and composing meals from the spring offerings and especially, spending time outdoors gazing at the blue sky and basking in the fresh air and spring temperatures. Such simple necessities, and a heightened life of beauty no matter what life circumstances, serve as a reminder of the importance of finding pleasure in the essentials.
Today, contemplate what the essentials for living your life may be. Are some essentials actually just wants or perhaps there are a few things you have placed on the “want” side that actually are fundamental for living well and being at peace. Be honest with yourself. Refuse to feel guilty for, in my case, creating a nightly routine in which my dogs sleep in their own room in their own very cozy beds so that I can sleep without interruption in my own. Whatever it may be, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know. Give yourself some time and then begin savoring the essentials so that when those extraordinary “wants” dance into your life, the high will be magnificent and beyond memorable, but even when it passes, you won’t miss it, so much as be thankful for the gift that it was as you step back into a life you love living.
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