Earlier this week I shared 10 things I learned last year, including “don’t overthink it,” something I said (and I’m not kidding here) could totally have been my motto for the year, in hindsight. And it’s a theme I want to carry into the next.
These are words to live by, for me, because I’m so good at making things harder than they need to be—whether it’s choosing which brand of rice to buy at the grocery, or crafting the perfect response to an email, or finessing my family’s after-school schedule. For me, Don’t overthink it means good enough is good enough, and done is better than perfect. This mini-mantra is about saving mental energy and getting things done.
But recently, my husband reminded me that Don’t overthink it doesn’t have to be just about practicalities and decision-fatigue aversion. Don’t overthink it can also bring a lot more simple abundance into my life.
Will was reading one of Ramit’s blog posts, in which he tells the story of a friend whose house looks like it came out of a design blog. He finally realized that the reason her house looks so great is that she always has fresh flowers in her home. Always. And when he asked her about it, she confessed that she had them delivered every week, like clockwork, because it made her happy.
Hey, you do that! Will said, and it’s true. Well, in a sense: mine aren’t beautiful, artisanal flowers from an NYC delivery service. They’re not delivered, they’re from Trader Joe’s—and I pick them out myself. But I do it like clockwork: I buy flowers every time I’m there (unless my peonies are blooming). I’m naturally frugal, and at a certain point I had to consciously decide that it was worth spending money on flowers, and to put it on autopilot. Now I don’t think about it, just plop them in my cart, no decision required. It costs somewhere around $5, and it makes me really, really happy.
Those flowers aren’t a big deal, but they make a big difference in how I think and feel. It makes me happy to see them (usually on my kitchen counter) all week long; it’s a little thing that has an outsized effect on my days.
It feels like abundance.
Our household conversation about the flowers made me stop and think about other things I do, without thinking, because they make me happy. Because they may be little things, but they feel like abundance.
It’s cold here now, and dreary is the new normal, and I’ve been lighting candles as part of my morning routine instead of “saving” them for special occasions. (It’s been so hard for me to break the habit of hoarding the good stuff!) I clean up breakfast, wipe down the counters, and light a candle that will give the kitchen a warm glow and make the house smell amazing.
I buy good pens—not fancy pens, but good ones—because they’re an inexpensive splurge and totally worth the money, for me.
I spend an extra dollar on my favorite brand of laundry detergent, “favorite” mostly meaning “best-smelling.”
Some of the things that make my days a little more pleasant are actual, tangible, material goods—flowers, pens, cleaning supplies. But that feeling of abundance doesn’t have to carry a price tag.
Reading for a bit during the day used to be part of my daily routine; it’s not anymore, hasn’t been for a while. I feel like I’m in a spacious place when I take a novel break (that is: a break involving a novel) in the middle of the day. Even for fifteen minutes. (A good cup of coffee doesn’t hurt this situation.)
Leaving the house a little early for my destination doesn’t feel like a waste of time anymore; it feels like an absolute luxury. The early departure feels like I’m writing a note to self, that says: I have all the time I need.
Recently, breaking for yoga during my workday makes me feel like … I have time to break for yoga. And I like to feel like I have time. It makes me feel abundant, like I have resources to spare.
These may not be your things, but they’re little things that I enjoy way more than it seems I should, based on how tiny they are, and how little they cost me in resources.
Do you have little things in your life that bring you an outsized amount of happiness? Do you have words you’re resolving to live by in the year to come? Please tell us all about it in comments!