At our age, we think we should have what we want. I got a new car. I wanted leather seats, but I didn’t get them (more on that below).

We all know the trick to life is wanting what you have. It’s been quite a lesson to figure out what are the things I need, versus what I think I need. How do you stay in that zone of being happy with what you have?

Make a Gratitude List Often

Don’t just thank the universe for the big things – health, family and no nuclear war. Although I am truly grateful for all those things, the practice has to do with finding joy and thanks in the everyday.

Thank you, universe, for the delicious cup of coffee I just had. Thanks for the soft towel I used after my bath – it fits so nice and snug and stays wrapped around my body. Thanks for the luxury to have a bath.

Enjoy What You Have Today

When I focus on my new car and the decision I made not to spring for the leather seats, I start down the path of regret. Regrets beget regret. Why would I want to bring regret into my life?

For way too long, I lived with the mantra of some day. Always in the future… When I’m thin. When I have long hair. When I have more time. When I’m in love.

Well, my friends, that day is today!

I remember cleaning my grandmother’s apartment after she died. There were lots of new items that she had been saving for some day and never actually used. It was even sadder because they weren’t so new anymore. And years later, they also weren’t as special in the light of day.

At this moment, I am thoroughly enjoying the leather seats in my rental car as I make my way to a destination wedding in Seattle. The car is good. The clothes I packed are perfect. I am here and in the moment. Not waiting for some day.

It wasn’t just the money. It was also the timing of finding the car I wanted. For me, the moon roof (also referred to as a sun roof) was non-negotiable. I love driving around in a convertible, and I can live without my favorite car if I have air coming in through the moon roof.

I like leather seats. They feel sexy and rich. I also know that the long cold New England winters, even with seat warmers, render the leather unforgiving. I am celebrating what I do have right now.

Know Your Non-Negotiable Items

What can’t you live without? It’s probably a much longer list than you believe. I’m pretty sure I can live without my own private jet, a fridge with no automatic ice maker and a boat.

I can happily survive without those conveniences. I can’t live without low fare plane tickets, ice cubes and a kayak. See the difference?

Turn Your Frown Upside Down

Your smile is your most valuable asset. Frown and your whole body reacts. Smile and it smiles with you. Your body chemistry changes when you smile. And when you smile, the world smiles with you.

Make Small Indulgences Daily

It’s always a good idea to indulge in something small every day. I’m not saying go into debt and get everything you want because you are at an age that you feel you deserve it. I am saying find indulgences that make your day more worthwhile.

I love new underwear. I can both afford and use new underwear every month, especially because my favorite brand comes in a three pack for under $10 at Marshalls.

I can sip coffee in my pyjamas till late afternoon and not leave my house, a luxury I never had when I worked full-time. I can travel, if I keep to a plan (wait till you hear about my recent Hostel experience) and remain focused on the world around me.

Find what you can bring into your routine that makes you feel special then give yourself the permission to enjoy it.

What’s Next?

Don’t think about what you don’t have. Think about what you do have and that includes experiences, time and effort. Smile and see what the universe brings today.

What small indulgences do you enjoy? Are there any non-negotiable things in your life? Let’s have a chat below!

Ilene MarcusIlene Marcus, MSW, MPA, is founder of Aligned Workplace. A recognized workplace expert, speaker and author, Marcus mentors business leaders to drive their agenda and build workplaces where success, inspiration, kindness and joy define the culture. Please visit her website at AlignedWorkplace.com.

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