Redefining luxury

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Spending time with friends and having the energy to invest in that.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Inspiration, and the time, energy and opportunity to access the things that inspire and uplift you, whatever those are.
  7. 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.
  8. Leisurely, indulgent, heartfelt, glorious and delightful lovemaking in all its many forms and possibilities.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

11 responses to “Redefining luxury

  • sophiaschildren

    I so appreciate this musing, Nimue!

    My own perspective was ‘polished’ through a cycle of what I can describe as radically simplifying (I gave a lot away by choice, and much of the stuff I didn’t give away ended up cleared out by Life Herself!).

    But it allowed me to really rediscover what I truly value and these exquisite luxuries in simple things that we (in American and perhaps broader Western culture) have been separated from. Recently I described one such rediscovery (going dark with the setting sun, and not using electronics, etc. after that) as feeling decadent. And so on…

    So I smiled at this musing you’ve shared, and the questions you’ve asked.

    I have it on my reblog list to share with my Sophia’s Children circle.

    Thank you … it’s a lovely way to begin the day here in New York.


  • Christopher Blackwell

    Done some of that and it does work. Seventeen pounds of bird seed a day give me birds and desert rodents to watch and giggle at nearly all day. I doubt an expensive vacation, with schedules and the rush of tour guides with crowded tours could do that much. I can do this every day since I don’t need drink alcohol, smoke cigarets, use recreational drugs except for Lipton Tea or drive around anywhere more than once a week. Being an old geezer has its benefits including redefining how I spend what money I have and still have my fun.

  • curlydogs11

    Nimu, your list is also my list! Each and every one is also a luxury for me. I’d only have to add having a husband who shows me that he “truly” loves me, even when I am unloveable and having 4 furkids that show me unconditional love in many ways, every day. “Things” are not luxury, we are deceived into thinking that we need them. Living yours (and my) list shows us what is real luxury

  • thegreeningspirit

    Your prescription for a good and happy life is mine as well! Thank you as always for your wise and so right-on posts,,,,they are beautiful and inspiring!

  • sophiaschildren

    Reblogged this on Sophia's Children and commented:
    I’m happy to share this lovely musing from Nimue Brown on ‘Redefining Luxury’.

    One part of reclaiming our mojo in various areas of life involves reclaiming and redefining words that have been co-opted … ‘luxury’ being just one of them.

    By reflecting on and reclaiming our own definition of ‘luxury’, we’re also centering in one what truly has value and worth to us (rather than what we’re brainwashed to value regardless of whether it contributes to our own and the greater wellbeing).

    This will feel like a very natural question for those of us exploring life as part of the Taurean-Venus mystery school this time around (a.k.a. the Taurus Rising club!).

    But as so many of us look to disentangle from mindless and often harmful consumption (regardless of the mystery schools we’re exploring this time around!), this is a potentially joy-stirring and empowering reflection.

    What has value, what feels (and is) of real value and worth to us, and in what simple, often-overlooked ways might we rediscover real luxury and decadence?

    Many of my ‘Top 10’ (or 20, or …) simple and rich luxuries would overlap the list that Nimue shares. I’ve added another recent discovery in the comments on Nimue’s post.

    What simple pleasures and natural luxuries have you rediscovered or renewed your appreciation for?

    Big Love,

  • Martina Ramsauer

    To be able to be able to “lose” time on creativity is very precious for me. To be able to eat good and simple healthy food is also very importantat least for me. Thank you for all the many good proposals.:) I wish you many luxurious hours during the weekend.

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    I came via Jamie’s reblog.. and smiled all the way through reading your excellent post As this week I have been indulging in my own Luxury of Self.. and can totally agree with All of your points but especially 2 and 4 this week..
    Blessings your way

  • Leeby Geeby

    Lying flat on my back in my garden and looking up at the stars. Remembering that we are made of star stuff. To realise this in this life is one of the greatest luxuries I can imagine. Many thanks for sharing. Warmest regards.

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