I am fortunate to have been born in the United States where I was able to get an education that led to a career which affords me a comfortable lifestyle. I have traveled to some beautiful countries, eaten some amazing meals and bought some fun toys. However, I find the enjoyment that I receive from these expensive distractions are fleeting. What I have found leads to the most consistent feelings of happiness is focusing on the little things. Here are a few of my favorite things.
Every morning, after I have crawled out of bed, I make a cup of coffee. Not just any coffee, but coffee I have roasted myself. I place the kettle to boil, deposit the beans into the grinder and fetch my Glibs-branded coffee mug. I listen for the water to steam and smell the beans as they grind, much like being near a waterfall, listening to the water crash off the rocks and smell the bouquet of nature. A few minutes of quiet contemplation. Once the water has come to the proper temperature, I mix the grounds and water in my French press and begin my four-minute wait. The process in entirety takes ten minutes. Ten minutes to myself, where I’m not concerned about the problems of the world or my own. Broken from my quiet reflection by the timer’s alarm, I eagerly pour my magical creation into my cup and deeply breathe in my latest batch. Did my roast yield mediocre results or the finest cup of coffee on earth? That is the most exciting part. Experiencing the results of your own craft. Really tasting the coffee and noting the uniqueness of each batch. Learning from my mistakes and reveling in my triumphs. I eschew quick coffee methods because I enjoy the ritual and its usually superior results. After draining my cup, I move to the bathroom.
Before work, like many of you, I engage in a hygiene routine. Brushing of teeth, showering of body, combing of hair and whatnot. The one area I may differ in is shaving. Several years ago, I decided to buy a straight razor because I thought it was cool. Probably the influence of too many gangster and cowboy movies. I am not one to waste space on useless baubles, so I decided to learn how to use the aforementioned straight razor. I fill the sink with scalding water and douse my face. I use my silver tip badger fur brush to whip up shaving cream in my little steel bowls. I strop my razor on fine leather and listen to the blade sing. With razor sharp and water hot, I apply the rich lather to my face. I will confess this, when shaving with a straight razor, your mind can be on no other task, or you will pay a blood price. Scraping and contorting my face, I shear my face in the grain of the growth. Another application of lather and I reverse the process. Rinsing, I inspect the results of my efforts and feel pride when no errant hairs are left or blood my blade. A quick application of aftershave and a ritual that requires absolute attention is done. I dress and leave for work refreshed and focused.
Having done yeoman’s work commenting on Glibertarians, I usually arrive home before midnight. I give my wife a hello kiss and a pat on the bottom, then steal away to the kitchen for my own heaven on earth: the liquor cabinet. I enjoy trying new spirits, but rye whiskey is a common companion. I take my crystal tumbler from its place and place two ice cubes inside. I love the sound of ice clinking against the crystal. The high tinkle contrasts perfectly with the dull thunk when I pull the stopper from the bottle of Whistle Pig. The Pig mascot in his top hat looks approvingly at me as I pour myself two fingers of that golden brown elixir and retire to the sofa to unwind. Swirling the glass to chill and dilute the whiskey, I deeply inhale the spicy sweet scent, recounting the day’s events. The first sip lovingly burns my throat and warms my belly. A pricey bottle to be sure, but well worth the expense. Another day finished. Another ritual complete.
These are my half-hour rituals that give me joy and keeps me sane. I spend money to enjoy quality whiskey, coffee and razors, but that small investment pays dividends that more than offset the cost. In fact, your small things need not cost money at all. You could take a morning walk, play with your pet, read to your children or any number of free activities. The key to happiness is being mindful and present and really focusing on what makes you happy. I invite everyone to share their “Little Things” in the comments section.