There is an expectation that has been creeping in on us to provide as much proof as possible that we are doing well. What seems to speak well is luxury designer items, recognizably high ticket possessions, travel & high priced leisure, popularity, and very current representations of beauty. These items support our own sense of personal prestige; they are proof of fortune and value, exclusivity, and thus, personal credibility.
We are natural decorators— we drape our bodies, we curate our surroundings, and most of us are actively upkeeping an image. We’re aware, sometimes more subconsciously, of this supposed proof of wellness. Ideally, proof for all to see and acknowledge.
I take no issue with those who value or prioritize possessions and experiences that are more proof-heavy than not. I take no issue with most of the decisions of others because, well, they are the decisions of others. They don’t belong to me, and I do not need to make sense of them. I only take issue with the insinuation, that ever creeping expectation, that if you do not lead a proof-heavy lifestyle, you should feel as though you have a lesser reality of doing well.
What comes strange to me is how much genuine luxury we trade for material luxury—i.e., our proof items. label luxury. We trade rest, quality time, mental health and all, in dedicated pursuit of proof; proof in quantity, proof in tiers, proof that never satiates for long, proof that slips upward and forward and keeps us hungry, starving, quietly longing and envying for more. The standards are shifting and they are waiting for no one.
To keep up, some are overworking, pretending, accumulating debt and otherwise sacrificing places of great meaning in their life in exchange for these things that offer significantly less meaning in return. And there’s no blame, no judgment. We live in our human nature. We want to be perceived well. As doing well. We want to attract and represent fortune and value. Exclusivity. Prestige amongst a group.
After a long while letting media, music, and external voices determine what is desirable and luxurious to me, I have come into questioning what I truly find to be of that description.
I’ve come into questioning what I work and sacrifice for. I’ve been asking myself where I derive genuine fulfillment. What I hope to never take for granted. What I thank God for first in my prayers. What warms me through difficulties. What grounds me deeply. What has meaning beyond decoration.
And it is not my best material items. It is not popularity. It is not even looking attractive. It is nothing that I could or would desire to put on for display. I catch moments all of the time where I feel incredibly blessed, even if it would not be convincing to others. That’s where we arrive at this substantial point: what makes you feel luxurious and blessed does not need to convince others. You can, at any point, choose to stop pursuing proof and pivot towards meaning. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. You do not need to prove your overall wellness, financial stability or successes to anyone, even if they choose, (even if the majority chooses,) to express theirs regularly and openly and comparatively.
The good news is, real luxuries— goosebump worthy, heart swelling, smile inducing, soul grounding luxuries are highly accessible. They don’t require a specific salary, body type or privileged background or series of life circumstances. Only clarity, to recognize and savor them. While I can enjoy proof-worthy items as much as the next person, I do not wish to attach myself to them. Not my worth, not the purpose of my labors, not my fulfillment, and not my representation of genuine wellness or a full and meaningful life.
For myself, for my own criteria of joy and meaning, these are REAL LUXURIES:
Slow moving time
But doesn’t time move at the same pace for us all? How can we manipulate our sense of time? Okay, technically, we can’t speed up or slow down time. But we can toggle the way we experience time, and there is something I have discovered as being a great help for adding time back to my life, and slowing down the time I have.
Live in presence. Exit the chatter of your mind, the weight of expectation, and the unease of anticipation to instead allow each moment to pass in real time and full capacity. In doing so, you allow yourself true access to all of that time.
You lose access to your time, or rather, you create rushed time or limited time when you are busy in thoughts rather than present within yourself and the current moment. My last blog goes more into this practice: The Importance of Stillness: Don’t build a life that you cannot enjoy.
We all know what it’s like to feel like the days are speeding by us and we haven’t remembered our last present/still moment. That, to me, is the opposite of a full and meaningful life. When we find ourselves on the hamster wheel: going through the motions, full of external noise, disconnected, rushed, and deprived of peace.
To me, when I am present, I absolutely slow time down. Time is a luxury, and it is savored and appreciated through presence.
“I make myself rich by making my wants few.”
Living in gratitude
This goes hand in hand with presence—and your ability to be present makes this much easier. This is a conscious effort to take less for granted, to be grateful for everything, even and especially the small things. Acknowledge everything you get to experience and receive. Thank God more often, (or tip your hat to the universe, call yourself lucky, however you believe.) And start making more of an effort to find that silver lining in every circumstance. Live in the understanding that life happens for you, not to you. Stop perceiving yourself and your life from a place of lack and longing. What are those good things really worth if no one is there to recognize it and appreciate it? Make a habit of living in gratitude now, and that feeling of luxury will only grow.
A body that does what it’s supposed to do. Sleeps and wakes. Protects you against serious injury and illness. Moves as you like it to. We can buy almost anything in current times, but our health is still something that requires personal investment of time and care. As time moves forward, we can dress any way we’d like, but it is our bodies underneath that will allow us to LIVE, and live well. As we age and continue to want to do all the things, with our bodies being the vehicles to do so, we will realize at some point that health is the true luxury. Take care of yourself so you can live a good and long life.
Quality time with close friends and family
We are social creatures. Cherish your people. We will outlive our elders. We aren’t promised tomorrow with everyone we love. Always make an effort to pour love back into those who have poured into you. Give long hugs. Ask questions to understand. Lend a hand. Play with the children in your life. Share more meals. Share more laughs. Make the time.
A relationship with God and/or the presence of spirituality in life
Although I would never try to speak for everyone on a topic such as religion and spirituality— Coming from someone who’s always had a complicated relationship with religion, I have found that during times in my life where I have leaned into God and spirituality, I feel more connected with myself. I find that a gentle perspective and gratitude comes easier. Still not all that much of a religious person, but I am definitely spiritual. When I consider times I was distant with this piece of myself, vs. When I make an effort to be more connected, I largely prefer that relationship with God. There are many things I could do without in life, but this is not one of them.
Nurturing a Hobby
Let’s talk about what you like. What you really like. Whether or not you think you’re good at it, whether it’s profitable or not. Whether others like it too, or if it’s just you. What do you like?
What gives you joy? What puts you at ease? Where do you lose yourself in flow? Do that more.
For me, that has been me making the time to nurture my creative hobbies. Headphones in and paintbrushes out. No intention to show or sell, just doing it for the joy it brings. Make time for what you enjoy, for no other reason besides you enjoy it. When I get to lose myself in a creative project, I feel like in that moment, I am living my most ideal life. I am happy. I am blessed. I feel luxurious.
Opportunities to learn
Education is a luxury. The amount of access we have to classes, tutorials, educational reading, etc., (as an average american, anyway,) is ridiculous. Take advantage. I used to avoid learning opportunities outside of what was necessary, until I realized I could learn about anything I wanted to. Now any time a good question comes to mind, I go look for the answer. Because I can. And oftentimes, that can lead to more questions, and more learning. I have been watching masterclasses on writing, graphic design, cooking, etc., and it’s been so much fun. I love listening to the experiences of others as well. I’ve come to really appreciate the value in learning. It’s something I will always sit up straight and be thankful for.
Go outside. Get some fresh air. Go barefoot. Lay out in the sun. Swim. Run like a child. Spend less time staring at a screen and spend more time in nature. Realize how small you are, and how big the world is. Gain some perspective. You won’t regret it.
Good Music. Good Food. Good books. Good Movies.
Rock out. Eat something colorful. Lose yourself in a good book. Watch something epic and thought provoking.
Taking loving, attentive care of yourself
This is ultimately what a luxe life is. Taking good care of yourself. Knowing yourself. Treating yourself how you want to be treated. Taking care of your hair, skin, and nails. (However that looks to you.) Feeding your body. Rewarding your hard work. Taking breaks when you need them. Keeping your environment peaceful and organized. Keeping promises to yourself. Having fun. Using good discipline where needed. Taking your time. Allowing yourself to love and be loved.
The more I fill my life with real, meaningful luxuries, the better I feel. I know I am doing well, because I undeniably feel it. And I am the only person that is going to matter too. I desire those “proof” items less. Sure, they’re nice, but they aren’t necessary. They aren’t an aim. They aren’t a priority. I do not feel like I lack if I am not keeping up or posting up.
A really good life is closer than you ever imagined. Seek out your real luxuries. Opt out of the need to prove your wellness. Kill your ego— you don’t need it as much as you think you do. Start living for yourself, and let that genuine happiness and contentment speak for you.