I saw a beautiful quote the other day that said, “The older I get, the more I realize I just need the simple things in life: a comfy home, good food on the table, and surrounded by the people I love.” Seconds later, I saw one that talked about the importance of giving. I thought those two concepts go so beautifully together. Read on to see what I mean!
The Older I Get, The Happier I Am with the Simple Things in Life
I was talking to a friend who just finished up her annual staycation. I asked what she did with her time off. Did she go anywhere fun? She had mentioned plans of going to a theme park for a day. Do anything exciting?
Her response? “I did nothing, and it was perfect.” She went on to say that she spent the entire week basically wandering around her house doing whatever came to mind. She read books, binged a new series, chatted with her teenager, and played with her dog.
Then she said that back in her 20s, a staycation like that would have depressed her. It would have just served as a reminder that she doesn’t really have the budget to go away. She would have felt like the entire week was wasted. Now, in her 40s, she can’t imagine a better way to spend her time off. Those simple things provided far more joy and relaxation than a week in a hotel somewhere far away.
After our conversation, I thought about how the older I get, the more the simple things in life make me happy, too. A stroll on a local beach with my family brings me as much joy- if not more- than an itinerary-packed getaway. A grilled meal in my backyard is just as wonderful as a gourmet meal from a fancy restaurant. Cuddle with my new puppy. Listening to the sound of my kids’ laughter. A good conversation with my husband…these seemingly mundane things really do make my life complete far more than anything money can buy.
With Age Comes the Wisdom to See the Good Things in Life, Science Says
I love when science proves something that I already know in my bones (as aging as they are) to be true. According to a 2008 study, it turns out that even scientifically speaking the older we get, the happier we are with the little things.
Researchers looked at levels of “social satisfaction” between both younger and older adults. They found that even though the younger crowd engaged in far more social activities than the older participants, they were less satisfied overall.
“Our research suggests that if a young person and an old person have the same experience, the older adult is likely to find it more uplifting,” Professor von Hippel said. He explained that older adults see the good things in life more easily and are less upset by little things going wrong. “This may be the wisdom of aging, the ability to experience everyday life as uplifting.” It’s really one of those things we only learn by getting older, I guess!
So, now we understand that- even scientifically speaking- the older we get, the less we need to be happy. Let’s shift gears to that second quote about giving. It went, “When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.”
When You More Than You Need to Be Happy, Build a Longer Table
Let’s go back to the quote from the intro. To refresh your memory (and save you from scrolling up), it goes, “The older I get, the more I realize I just need the simple things in life: a comfy home, good food on the table, and surrounded by the people I love.” Here’s the thing: many, many, many people don’t even have those “simple” things. Let’s break it down.
- As of 2020, 42 MILLION people in America- nearly 13% of the US population-don’t know what it’s like to have “good food on the table.” Instead, they go to bed hungry every night.
- Over half a million people in the US don’t know what it’s like to have a “comfy home.” Instead, they’re forced to live on the streets, surrounded by danger 24/7.
- There are no reliable statistics on the number of people who aren’t “surrounded by the people” they love. However, a 2018 survey found that 46% of Americans report feeling lonely either sometimes or always.
Good food, a comfy home, and companionship aren’t just “simple things” that sound good on a meme, they’re actually essentials for our survival. We cannot live long without sustenance and shelter. Period. While we can theoretically survive loneliness, “love and belonging” is still the 3rd most important thing on Maslow’s hierarchy.
Look for the joy in the little things, and share that joy with others whenever you can
If you’re struggling to find happiness, try focusing on the little things. I bet you’ll find that there’s far more good in your life than you realized. On the other hand, if you already have everything you need, why not “build a longer table” and help others discover the joy of the little things in life? Giving back to others makes us feel good about ourselves, so not only are you making someone else’s life better, you’re also increasing your own joy as well.
Of course, that shouldn’t be the only reason to help others, but it’s a nice bonus.