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9 simple pleasures that don’t cost a thing but time

9 simple pleasures that don’t cost a thing but time

Let’s admit it. Finding time to do the things we absolutely need to get done doesn’t always happen. I know I wish there were more hours in a day and I have yet to find someone who is willing to share some of their “leftover” hours with me. Time is short for all of us and it is our most precious commodity.

I will be honest. For years, I hurried through life. I was barely making it through my day, going at the speed of light on some days, let alone having time to doing anything else. My diet was horrible (sure, I will eat that last chicken nugget so as to not waste food), I didn’t make time for exercise (said the former athlete), and I stopped reading anything that didn’t remind me about upcoming parent-teacher conferences or include a baseball schedule.

That was me. Perhaps you can relate a little. Then, due to those same time constraints I found one of my favorite pleasures that is included on this list. And I didn’t just find it…I fell in love with it. Because of that one little thing, I became more aware of other little things that seem to fill my heart with joy in ways nothing else could.

Just in the last few weeks, I have seen a heron glide over a local pond with such grace and stillness that it appeared to be fake. I have seen baby bunnies hop and frolic with one another on a nearby hill. I have had a staring contest with a baby deer as it stumbled onto a park trail.

In short, I have become more in tune with what I have been missing all of these years and have chosen to embrace those moments – to make time for them – when they come. And if it has been too long since I last had one of these temporary reprieves from life, I create my own.

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Here are your 9 simple pleasures, in no particular order:

1. Laughing out loud.

We take laughing for granted, although numerous studies have been done to show that laughing is very good for us. Think about it, when was the last time you laughed out loud? More than a giggle and definitely more than a chuckle. One so loud that the person in the next booth could hear you.

Sometimes, those laughs come from something we are watching or just something we hear. Not one of us can watch a YouTube video of four laughing babies laying on the bed with their mom laughing at their dad and not laugh. Plus, laughing is contagious. Soon you won’t laugh alone but your friends and family will join in.

2. Playing with pets.

Who doesn’t love watching animals do funny things, even if we prompt those funny things? Today, a boxer walked up to me and my friend as we were walking and this gorgeous pooch just wanted us to pet her and show her some love.

Having animals to play with brings out the little kid in us all and even if we talk a bit differently (“well, hi shnookums” in our best baby talk), we are all a little better for those few minutes when the rest of the hustle and bustle of life just wasn’t as important as we watched our new friend almost shake herself out of her tail. Although my friend has an affinity for cats, I think she loved this “baby girl” just as much.

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3. Dancing to your own beat.

I’m love dancing though I often tell people that a “two-step” has one too many steps for me. Whether it be the last Justin Timberlake song where he “Can’t stop the feeling” or a little Leo Sayer who suggest we “dance the night away” – let the music become one with you and allow it to express itself any way it can.

We love it when we hear songs that we grew up with because not only do they take us back in time, but they also give us a little taste of our own youthfulness. Get your groove on and shake it. It will make you feel better.

4. Holding the hand of someone.

Holding someone’s hand is a way to show your concern for the other person or to remind them they are not alone. But it is not something we usually ask for, it just happens. It connects us without saying anything. It expresses love, comfort, and a sense of belonging that cannot be described. Even if you don’t know the person really well, it connects our human spirit and in that moment, we become one. We become united. We are together.

Aside from a good hug, one of my favorite simple things in life is holding someone’s hand. Not because they asked for it, but because it means a lot to both of us. In addition, when someone reaches for mine, whatever is going on in my heart and head seems to be easier to deal with because I’ve got someone right next to me…just in case.

5. Watching a sunrise or sunset.

Here it is, the one that started it all. My first simple pleasure was found in a simple sunrise. I prefer the sunrise because it signals a new day and beginnings – something to look forward to and the sunset reminds me to take a moment to look back. But having no control over something that happens day after day just reminds me of how big the world can be and the littleness I am next to it.

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With the passing of the sun as the Earth revolves around it, I am reminded of time and how quickly it seems to pass as well as how much I wish I could slow it down. But never again I adore the simpleness found in looking towards the horizon as the orange glow rises to say “Hello, World.”

6. Sharing a memory or story.

Too often, we get so caught up in moving forward that we forget to take a look back at where we have come, share an experience, or relive something funny. Sometimes, the specifics aren’t as important as the emotions felt in retelling the story. This connects us to our past in ways we forgot in the fast world of today.

Telling something from years past creates a connection bigger than between a few people – it connects generations and personal history that might otherwise be lost with the passing of the the people who experienced these moments first hand. Sitting together at the dinner table, over a campfire, or even snuggled in bed at night, we all want to hear the retelling of moments that confirm no only who we are but where we come from.

7. Listening to the sounds of life.

This can mean anything from the birds singing to children playing in the sprinkler in your back yard. Taking time to notice and hear these sounds can get drowned out in the echoes we hear every day. Even hearing the sound of the coffee grinding at the local barista can make us appreciate the small things, like a great cup of coffee with someone we love.

Hear the sound of that engine firing up at the race track just down the road, hear the roar of the engine of the airplane soaring overhead, hear the whimper of an infant from the next room as she wakes up from her nap. hear the pitter patter of the feet as he runs down the hall to greet you on Christmas morning. Don’t miss another sound…just listen.

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8. Smiling.

It sounds too good to be true, but smiling is one of life’s easiest and most special ways to communicate with one another. When you surprise your friend at work, what is the first thing you see? You see her smile because in that moment, in addition to the way she looks at you, she tells you, “I’m so glad to see you!”

Smile when your husband takes you out to dinner or gives you a nice back rub after a long day in the office. Smile at people you will never see again – as you do, you connect with them in a way that each of you will remember long after that moment is gone. When you give a smile away, the majority of the time you get one back as an added bonus.

9. Saying “I love you”

Everyone needs to hear these words, several times during our lifetime and they are especially poignant when we aren’t expecting them. Sometimes, saying these three small words can be difficult, but they carry so much power. Sharing them connects us to one another and allows our hearts to not only be heard, but treasured.

It is easy for us to take this phrase for granted as we rush through life as it becomes something more to do out of habit than something we believe in. But love is love. And saying the words, “I love you” to another human being shows us how to be our best selves. Some of us can be afraid to talk about how we feel to the people in our lives, but hearing these words never get old.

There you have it: 9 simple pleasures that make our life better. Ways that we can forget about all of the crazy things going on and the deadlines we are facing and instead think about the moments we really savor in our lives. Life is complicated enough as it is and a good chunk of change is inevitable. But when it comes down to it, there are so many great things out there that we dismiss every day.

When the time comes and we look back on our lives, I hope your life is littered with these simple pleasures – let them serve as a reminder that life isn’t about large or expensive things, in fact, our greatest treasures come from the smallest of places. So let’s slow down enough to witness them, participate in them, and hold onto them as long as we can.

Featured photo credit: http://getrefe.tumblr.com/ via 66.media.tumblr.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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