Western culture tends to define luxury around items that cost a lot of money, or at a pinch, experiences that cost a lot of money (luxury holidays, mostly). ‘The Good Stuff’ is all about objects, and to afford the objects, or cheaper replicas of the objects, we have to work very hard. The culture of things is not sustainable, our planet cannot keep everyone in the style of an average western household, much less in the style of a household that can afford a lot of luxury goods.
What do you consider to be a luxury? Is it the price tag? Is luxury defined by scarcity? Is it an emotional response to something indulgent? If so, what feels indulgent? If we can redefine luxury, perhaps more of us can get off the treadmill and enjoy living, rather than chasing after objects that will soon become obsolete. Here are ten things I experience as luxuries that have little or no cost. Feel free to add more in the comments.
- Sleeping for as long as I need to and waking without an alarm clock. Most of us do not get enough sleep most of the time. The pleasure of feeling properly rested is considerable. Having an extra ten minutes to just stay in bed and enjoy it is a lovely feeling.
- Sitting in the sun. Granted, the British climate doesn’t create that many opportunities, but just to have the sun in my face, regardless of season, and to have the opportunity to be out in it, feels really good.
- Spending time with friends and having the energy to invest in that.
- Having time for creativity. Whatever creativity appeals to you, as an audience, as a creator, as a participant. Singing or dancing with people, listening to music, going to a comedy show, sharing jokes and stories with people. It doesn’t have to cost anything but it’s worth a lot.
- Having nothing to do. If that’s the case every day, life can get dull, but now and then to have a day with nothing in it, nowhere you have to be, nothing that must be done, and the freedom to do very little with that day should you so desire.
- Inspiration, and the time, energy and opportunity to access the things that inspire and uplift you, whatever those are.
- Curled up evenings that are snug, snuggely, comforting. Sharing that with other warm, soft mammals. Apparently Scandinavian languages have a word for this, celebrating the cosy.
- Leisurely, indulgent, heartfelt, glorious and delightful lovemaking in all its many forms and possibilities.
- Good food. Not expensive food, but happy food. Nourishing food. Things you foraged or grew or cooked yourself, things you enjoy, food you can share with people you like.
- Any new thing can be delightful, it doesn’t have to be expensive. A new view, a band you’ve never heard before, a food you haven’t tried. Novelty enriches lives, and it can be available on a very slim budget, if you are willing to find it on a small scale and appreciate anything unfamiliar that comes your way.
Part of me thinks these things should be there for everyone all the time. Too many of us do not have the things that would make us well and happy while we chase after the money to buy things that wouldn’t give us that either. Much of what’s on my list rather depends on not being perpetually exhausted and overwhelmed by work issues, and having a small amount of money and an abundance of time to deploy. If we reframed luxury to understand it in terms of small happy things we can have, rather than big expensive things that will leave us in debt, the scope for being happy and being sustainable increases. These are things we can have, if we stop letting big business tell us what we have to buy in order to feel good about ourselves.