Language can be misleading. As adults, if we laugh out loud in glee when we see a squirrel run up a tree or suddenly skip down the street, most observers would find that odd or qualify the actions as childlike. We are expected to be more serious than not and prioritize work, work, and more work.

To make things worse, social and traditional media bombard us with stories about celebrities and rich peoples lifestyles, making that seem like what we should aspire to. A Rolex watch, an Armani suit, a cruise or vacation spent in a bungalow over the water in Bora Bora. These become synonymous with luxury and our supposed life goals.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Its time to take back the definition of luxury and start enjoying the small things, happily and simply.

"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way." - Thich Nhat Hanh

What are elements that add to your pleasure or comfort even if they are not absolutely necessary? How might you indulge in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease?

In other words, when was the last time you

  • Curled up with a good book?
  • Took a nap?
  • Went to the movies on a sunny day?
  • Spent time outdoors, perhaps in a park on your day off?
  • Watched the sun set?
  • Went to an art exhibit?
  • Skipped down the street?
  • Experienced a full evening in good company without looking at your phone?
  • Took a moment to laugh at dogs playing, squirrels being squirrels, or even a street performer?
  • Made a loved one smile?

This is a subjective list of course, as it reflects small things I enjoy doing, things that do not require any monetary investment or significant change in lifestyle, yet never fail to make my day better. Whatever your list looks like and if you dont have such a list I highly recommend you giving it some thought, there is no time like the present to start weaving more elements from your list into your everyday life.

These actions do not need to take more than a few minutes, or cost anything. The point is to find and create moments of happiness throughout your days and make sure you are aware of them when they happen.

These may be labeled small things, and perhaps they are when compared to spending a few weeks on a deserted island accessed by private jet. But between you and me, the island fantasy might be overdone. What if you were able to take such a trip but were not in good company? Or the island is full of mosquitoes? Or upon arrival you realize you forgot sunscreen?

I am not suggesting anyone should find fault in things unnecessarily, but rather that you add a touch of realism to fantasies if thats what it will take to make you internalize that happiness is not waiting for you on an island, nor will it be unlocked by an expensive item you wish you had.

Happiness is everywhere you let it be. Small things that happen any given day, or every day. And this is whats big. To realize its there. Mostly up to you.

So, while it is laudable to have goals such as saving up for a car, vacation, or that piece of jewelry youve had your eye on for a while, lets balance that out with enjoying life every step of the way. A smile, a kind gesture, a shared moment.

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Shahnaz Radjy’s background is Swiss, Bolivian, and Iranian (no, really). She loves food, farming, books, horses, adventure, and silly socks – though not necessarily in that order. Having traveled around the world for a year in 2016-17 to discover, learn, volunteer, and remember how beautiful life is outside an office, she and her husband will be based in Portugal as of mid-2017. The plan is to launch a farmstay and write about life while enjoying every minute of it. You can read her travel blog, visit her Medium profile, or see photos of her experiences on Instagram.

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