Life’s simple pleasures used to escape me. In my early twenties, my husband and I were living pay-check to pay-check. We were in debt, stressed out, and I was shopping for happiness at the mall. We were supposed to be happy, but something was missing.
My husband suggested that we try a minimalist lifestyle. He grew up on a farm, and his family “valued doing more with less, and not wasting anything.” He thought a minimalist lifestyle would benefit our finances, health, relationships, and more.
At the time, I was opposed to the idea. In short, I was scared of:
- making habit changes,
- what our friends and family would think,
- letting go of my stuff,
- and more.
After many conversations with my husband, I agreed to try minimalism. I’m glad that I finally listened to him.
Adopting a minimalist lifestyle didn’t require sacrificing my dreams or desires. The opposite was true. We were able to pursue goals like paying off our debt, changing careers, and more.
Along the way, I rediscovered the joy of simple pleasures. Simple pleasures typically cost little to no money, and help me notice the people, places, and things that bring me joy.
As Journalist Christina Cala said, “… it’s OK to love things, and it’s OK to feel joy. There is a lot of freedom in that: in finding something delightful, taking time with it and sharing that joy.”
The real benefits of a minimalist lifestyle
The advantages of adopting a minimalist lifestyle are endless. Some benefits include:
- paying off debt,
- saving money,
- decluttering your home,
- working less,
- becoming a mindful consumer,
- and more.
For me, savoring simple pleasures exemplifies the benefits listed above. Also, these benefits have helped me in unexpected ways.
For example, after my dad died, I felt myself sinking into depression. Coping with grief was challenging, and I needed something positive to focus on. So, I decided to start a daily photography project – My Morning View.
The project honored my dad, and it focused on savoring simple pleasures like drinking a hot cup of coffee and watching the sunrise. This project also helped me find slices of happiness and joy during a difficult time.
32 Of Life’s Simple Pleasures that Don’t Cost Much
Happiness researcher Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky said, “… Happiness is a choice. We can choose to become never-satisfied janitors of our possessions, or we can use our money in ways that improve our worlds and, as a bonus, supply us with genuine and lasting well-being.”
Dr. Lyubomirsky’s research suggests that spending money on small pleasures – like buying fresh flowers or guitar lessons – will offer you more joy than new material items. She also wrote about a concept called hedonic adaptation. When you buy something new – like a smartphone or car – it might bring you joy in the short-term. But over the long-term, you’ll adapt to new material possessions.
Simple pleasures, on the other hand, are typically tied to experiences. Experiences can help you grow, learn, and reflect on meaningful memories. And, they aren’t tied to hedonic adaptation. Experiences and memories can bring you joy, gratitude, and delight in the years to come.
With hardly any investment at all, you can enjoy simple pleasures like a deep breath, the first sip of coffee in the morning, fresh sheets, a good workout, watching an old movie or spending time in your favorite place.
As Dr. Lyubomirsky said, “The conclusion is that if we want to buy happiness, we need to wring as many rewarding and stretching experiences from our purchases as possible.”
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to share my favorite simple pleasures with you. Most of them cost little to no money, and are generally focused on experiences.
Here’s my list of simple pleasures:
1. Listening to music, podcasts, and the radio.
2. Enjoying a bike ride in every season; especially during spring rain showers.
3. Taking an afternoon nap with my cat.
4. Drinking hot coffee or tea in the morning.
5. Making and eating homemade cake and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.
6. Watching the sunrise and sunset.
7. People-watching at a coffee shop.
8. Listening to the birds chirp.
9. Hot showers and bubble baths.
10. Sitting in a sauna or hot tub.
11. Playing with my kitten.
12. Making my bed with crisp clean sheets.
13. Donating books, buying books, reading novels, and checking out digital books via Libby.
14. Hugging my husband.
15. Sending snail mail to friends.
16. Reading a good book or listening to my favorite song.
17. Going for a nature hike at my local park or by the ocean.
19. Simple things like noticing and writing about my surroundings.
20. Decluttering and cleaning my home.
21. Hanging out with friends.
22. Spending phone-free quality time with loved ones.
23. Eating dark chocolate.
24. Trying a new recipe, and surprising my husband with a home-cooked meal.
25. A Lazy Sunday morning that includes a big breakfast, relaxing on the couch, and snuggling with my cat.
26. Decluttering my digital world; especially my inbox.
27. Going through old photos and taking photos of small pleasures.
28. Small things like sitting on my front porch after a long day.
29. Writing delight lists in my journal.
30. Eating popcorn at the movies (or at home).
31. Listening to friends tell funny jokes, and laughing deeply.
32. Giving a compliment to a friend, co-worker and barista.
What brings you joy?
Find a pen or pencil, and something to write on. Grab your journal, a scrap of paper, or use the Notes app on your phone. Then, set a timer for 15 minutes and respond to the following question:
- What simple pleasures bring joy, delight, and gratitude into your life?
As you write, don’t censor yourself. Let your words flow and have fun!
When you are done writing, review your list. Reflect on how you can incorporate simple pleasures into your daily or weekly routine.
Also, think about how you can share simple pleasures with your loved ones. Sharing experiences with friends and family is a wonderful way to deepen your relationships.
Resources to help you enjoy simple pleasures
Since 2003, I’ve let go of clutter, debt, bad habits, old stories, and more. Plus, I continue to learn, grow, and experiment with minimalism. I’m so happy that I listened to my husband and decided to give minimalism a try. It’s worth trying new things; even when I’m scared.
I never imagined that minimalism would ignite deep joy and gratitude in my life. I also didn’t think the lifestyle would help me rediscover simple pleasures. I don’t have to shop for joy or happiness at the mall anymore. Simple pleasures are easy to access, and they don’t cost much money.
If you’re looking for more resources to inspire you, explore the list below.
- Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay by Cyndie Spiegel
- The Book of Delights and Inciting Joy by Ross Gay
- “Can Money Buy Happiness? New research reveals that reminders of wealth impair our capacity to savor life’s little pleasures” by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky