Spending 20 out of 72 hours in a car with someone you love tends to bring up some pretty epic conversations.
So when my bestie and I road tripped to NYC and back last weekend, in addition to the lighter – and let’s be honest – nerdier and cry-laughy stuff we talked about like who can out pun whom (her), who had the more awkward hair cut as a kid (also her), which worst R&B track is the best to make out high school style to (Keith Sweat), and which episode of which season from Sex and The City most accurately reflects our lives at different times (wow that’s a whole post on it’s own), our conversations got pretty real.
As we drove for hours listening to great music, stopping for coffee and snacks, stopping again to pee, then stopping yet again to turn around and go back to find my phone that I left in a bathroom stall somewhere in Small Town Pennsylvania, we sat there in the luxurious comfort of a Cadillac XT5 (complete with WiFi, air conditioned seats, and a killer stereo), hashing s*** out with pretty deep observations, reflections, and introspections, not even noticing the time go by.
At one point the subject turned to how people enjoy their “things,” and how there is a tendency to save them for later: “I’ll use this massage gift card for when I really need it. I better save this champagne for a special occasion. I’ll wear this dress when I need to make an impression. I’ll travel when I’m retired.” I got to thinking that it can feel as if we hoard happiness, saving it for a time when we think we will need it, or a time we think we’ll be more deserving of it.
The startling truth is that we only ever have this moment, right here in front of us. There is no promise of later. So while we can understand and appreciate the sense of occasion that needs to be honoured with different life events, we can also be profoundly aware of the fleeting nature of the present. Knowing that, why do we delay our happiness? Why do we prolong our enjoyment of things, making ourselves wait for when we think will be a better time?
This life is precious, and every moment should be treated as special, because every moment is pretty effing special.
Let’s say you have a $200 “dining” allowance built into your monthly budget. You could wait for the one night and carefully plan out which higher end or special place you want to go to and use the whole sh’bang in one sitting; OR, you could take the same $200 and get coffee from the cafe a couple times a week, treat a friend to lunch, grab drinks and tacos at your local, and relieve the daily stress of the family meal plan / shop / prep by ordering in or using a meal service. The same holds true in using a travel analogy: do you save all year for one lavish, tropical, umbrella-drink-based week away, or do you road trip here and there throughout the year? If you think of the amount of pleasure you have to spend versus the amount of money you are spending, it seems kinda clear which option has more value.
There’s a different cultural ethos that comes with each generation, and the one starting to burn out is the one that is obsessed with saving, waiting, biding the time. Yes, there is a huuuge amount of understanding and accepting responsibility – especially financial – that is a heavy factor in decision making; however. The modern ethos of work and life blending into one, and of appreciating what you have, while you have it, based on the experience and pleasure you derive from it, all while happening in real time, is starting to usurp the old.
Injecting more pleasure and delight on a more regular basis affects our every day life, and since like attracts like, you could argue (as the hippies and spirit junkies among us tend to do) that enjoying more, more often, attracts more joy into your life.
Has your head exploded? Are you still with me?
Working with that understanding, why not celebrate the little things? Why not find joy in the seemingly mundane of the day to day? Why not allow yourself to indulge in the details in the moment when they present themselves to you, versus being obsessed with saving them for later? Start to ask yourself, if you’re in this camp, why it is you’re doing so? Is it because you’re afraid there won’t be joy later, and that you have to stockpile some now for your future? Did you come from a place in life where the pattern was to delay gratification? Or maybe, just maybe, were you not allowed to enjoy your life for what it was, and all the goodness found in it? Or was the goodness hard to find then?
As with any thing, “all you have to do” is break whatever pattern is holding you back from moving forward, and from finding – and really, creating – your happiness. It’s not always easy, but it sure as hell is always possible. Just because you may have grown up in a situation that taught you one thing about how life is to be perceived and lived, does not mean, by any means, that you have to follow suit. Even if what you knew then (maybe when you were a kid or a teenager) to be true was “happiness is rare, and doesn’t come along often; I’m afraid I won’t have it again for a long time,” baby, that doesn’t have to be true for you now.
And while this is not at all to advocate that you over indulge in anything with reckless abandon, all in the spirit of living in the now, it’s important to recognize that you don’t need to fear a lack of happiness later on…because you, sweetheart, can create more whenever you need more. And therein lies the secret as to how to stop hoarding your happiness – simply start enjoying it, and start creating more of it.
Bring fresh flowers into your house every week. Set the table with your loveliest dishes. Eat the food you want to eat. Tell your people how you feel. Allow yourself to care for you, and to love yourself in a deep and whole way. Make mimosas with brunch. Have cake for breakfast. Skinny dip. Get down on the floor and play with your kids. Listen to your favourite music. Have sex with your sweetie in the middle of the day. Hell, have sex with yourself in the middle of the day. Eat dessert first. Go for a walk. Ride your bike and feel that wind in your hair. Dress the hell up and wear bright lipstick, nice underwear. Dip your damn toes in the water and wait for minnows to nibble them. Get the tattoo. Pop bubble wrap. Jump on the trampoline. Get your hair done. Book the massage. Dance on the street. Sing out loud. Stay home when you want to. Nap. Drink from the orange juice container. Say yes to things that scare the crap out of you. Appreciate that you are doing the best that you can at any given moment, and that is enough. Have the courage to dare greatly and see what happens. Give yourself permission to find, create, and enjoy a hell of a lot more happiness everywhere you go.
Get a pen (cough, open up the notes app on your phone) and make a list of five things you will do today to create and enjoy more happiness in your life. We get one spin around in this life, and the only person responsible for making it a great one is you.
What are you waiting for?