A Tribute to Simple Pleasures

Sometimes, I think, we need to step back — to take stock of how far we’ve come, and to widen our eyes a bit to every little piece of happiness that is otherwise so easy to ignore.

I try and build a list a few times each month. It keeps me going, in a sense, when I have my gloom and doom face on, when the stress of too much work and too little play really starts beating down my door. A list like follows might not solve the problem, but I think it helps balance it.

And maybe, instead of clamoring about for some magical solution, that’s just what we need: perspective. We need an understanding that life can dump the good and the bad on us at a moment’s notice, and we need an understanding that the good — even when the bad is all we can think about — never fades away.

If anything, it outlasts everything else.

Here’s my list for today:

1. Unfurling a bag of fresh-ground coffee and taking a big, long breath of its scent: earthy and warm.

2.
A rare morning chill for sunny Texas. I can feel the cold in my lungs and on my fingers, and it’s every bit as bracing as my big mug of caffeine.

3.
My favorite pair of nice pants. I’ve gone through at least three stages with these: a little tight when I first bought them many years ago, very tight when I tried to wear them back in college, and now — remarkably — a little loose as I wear them today. It’s hard not to smile when I put them on.

4.
A conversation with my brother. We talked travel plans for two straight hours the other night, and I’m still riding the ambition — the excitement — today.

5.
A new haircut. After years upon years of stepping out of the barbershop and resembling a shaved chicken, I’ve finally found a place that does good work. The cuts, now, make me feel happy and handsome, which is about all I could ever ask for.

6.
All of you. The realization, this morning, that I have slightly more than a few dozen people who seem to enjoy what I say. I can only try (and probably fail) to express how grateful I am for your attention, and I can only hope my ramblings provide some value to your life.

7.
The realization that tomorrow is Friday. Yes.

8.
The wide, tall windows in the office I’m borrowing. The view might not impress, but the early sunlight always brightens my morning.

9.
Another achingly blue Texas sky. It’s strange, in a sense, that it took me twenty-three years to realize how open — how incredible — it can be.

10. The fact that it took me 30 minutes just to come up with 10 things to put on this list. That might seem a little sad, but I call it a place to improve — a part of my personality that I know I can work on and really try to hone my sense of gratitude for everything in my life. I’m not quite where I want to be, but I’m happy to be walking in that direction.

What’s on yours?

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with family and friends. These simple pleasures, I think, are worth sharing with the world over.

33 Comments

  1. Laurie says:

    Hi Matt,
    I love #1…opening up a new container of coffee is high on my list of favorite little things to appreciate. :)

    I also like to make lists like this, especially when i’m feeling anxiety or overwhelm. I always smile when the same things keep showing up on the list: A warm, safe place to sleep, plenty to eat, plenty to wear, family and friends who love me. And then there are the seemingly small, fleeting things that sometimes hit you in the moment as profound: the way the sun shines thru Autumn leaves in the evening, the sound of rain on the roof, the first time you hear a song that you know will become a favorite. I love that stuff, and always so appreciate how it helps me find my center again when I’ve been feeling scattered.

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Fantastic, Laurie. Your list has those exact romantic moments that make life worth living — the little glimpses of color that, as you put it, help us find our centers again when we’re feeling all blown about.

      Life gives us plenty to smile about. :)

  2. Manuel Loigeret says:

    Hi Matt, great post. It’s true and obvious but it is always good to remember to enjoy simple pleasures. Here is a small list of things that I appreciate today.
    -Waking up to the idea of making coffee with a french-press
    -Walking in the street and avoiding the “lines” on the pavement
    -Knowing that the barrista recognized me and prepared my favourite type of coffee (double americano) before I have even asked.
    -Looking at the rain from inside
    -Stretching

  3. Daryl says:

    Hi Matt, tonight I broke all the rules – I had a wonderful birthday dinner with my grandfather, then I came home and ate more chocolate, crackers etc etc – completely enjoyed all of it and then realised that I no longer felt guilt like I felt before – I’m so happy that I now know that it’s OKAY to overeat once in a while, as long as I don’t do it everyday.

    It makes me so happy to know that knowing that I overate tonight, I KNOW that tomorrow it may reflect on the scale, but that’s fine. I’ll keep breathing, eat a little less tomorrow and make up for it, and I am confident that the weight will reflect that by Monday. That’s what makes me happy.

    Thanks Matt :)

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Kudos, man. That’s the perfect attitude to have. :)

      And just for the sake of anyone reading these comments, let me reiterate the beauty of Daryl’s approach: if you eat more one day, eat less the next. There’s no need for guilt, and there’s no need to deprive yourself on a special occasion like a birthday — eat your fill, enjoy every bite, and know that you can take simple steps (skip a few meals, exercise a bit more) to even it all out over the following week.

      Great comment. :D

  4. Primal Toad says:

    Loving your blog and your writing more and more as the days pass by!

    I used to write in a gratitude journal on a daily basis for 2 years. I stopped because I was still in a “rush rush” lifestyle and felt that I was not connecting with what I was writing.

    Today, I more often then not reflect and show gratitude for the simple pleasures. I’ll be writing a blog post response to this within a week for sure but for now here are a few:

    1. Walking around my parents quaint, peaceful neighborhood and watching the squirrels nibble on nuts while closely watching me walk by with my dog, Chauncey.

    2. Having the opportunity to stay 2 weeks with my bro in Chicago between now and Thanksgiving. WIth this, living without a car become a breeze since Whole Foods and Trader Joes are within 1 mile. The farmers market is a fun 3 mile walk away.

    3. Being within a 1 miles walk of Lake Michigan. There is no beach but looking out at the greatest lake in the world (biased opinion) no matter the weather is an incredible pleasure.

    More to come via my blog post within a week!

    Thanks for the inspiration Matt!

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      My pleasure, man. :) Thanks so much for the kind words, and consider me very jealous on that view of Lake Michigan. Looking forward to your post!

  5. andrea says:

    So often November is the month of the year everyone decides to make lists of what they are thankful for in their lives…this is a wonderful reminder to take stock in life’s joys more often than once a year!
    Here’s my list for today:
    My job…I’m currently on vacation for the month of November so this one is easy…I often take for granted when I’m working full months the flexibility it still allows me and the awesome destinations I get to visit while working.
    My husband…sacrificing the comforts of life for the benefit of our family.
    My home…although I’m now an empty-nester and my husband works in Afghanistan and it’s WAY to much house for one person…it is a place of refuge and relaxation.
    My health…with a background of an eating-disorded life I’m thankful to be in a place of balance where I can enjoy eating and exercising with the goal of a strong healthy body in mind.
    My kids…I’ve raised two beautiful children who are happy and healthy and living productive lives in this crazy world!
    Oh the list could go on and on…but those are the biggies for today!

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Lovely, Andrea. :) You have so many happy, powerful things in your life, and I’m so glad you shared them.

  6. rachael says:

    Aw lovely post and replies! Being within a mile of Lake Michigan must be amazing. I’m gratfeful for any green/natural space I can find here (London, UK). We do have some lovely parks….

    You have inspired at least one blog post in response to this.. Thank u! For this too I am grateful.

  7. Jen says:

    I don’t usually comment, but I love your blog. Thank you for doing this and giving me something to look forward to. You are a blessing to many and the fact that you are only 23 years old and can list these 10 items within 30 minutes is awesome and shows that you have a great down to earth approach to life, what a great gift.

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Thank you so much, Jen. This comment blew me away when I read it last week, and it reminds me still today how grateful I am to have so many kind readers. Thank you for reaching out. :)

  8. Grace says:

    I make simple pleasure lists too, they are usually based on the seasons.

    I really enjoyed looking at the moon last night, it was full and glowing.

  9. Ron Thielen says:

    -appreciating a full moon,eating two healthy meals today,being in better health at 53 than I was at 33, discussing life with a friend,realizing that Gods plan for me is unfolding as it should.

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Awesome, Ron. :) Being in better shape at 53 than when you were 33 must be one hell of an amazing feeling!

  10. Daryl says:

    lol woke up this morning to weigh myself – turns out I lost 0.5 a pound – just goes to show that if you control your portions, you can eat whatever and still lose weight! :D

  11. Mia says:

    Great list Matt! You’ve got me all smiling and inspired now. :) I actually agree with you on quite a few!
    - My jeans are fitting me amazingly now, and even a little loose, and they were tight when I got them 4 months ago.
    - I have my (FIRST EVER) European plane ticket! Leaving March 2012!
    -My office building is actually ridiculously gorgous too. We have the 2nd story and there is an atrium on the ground floor. so I look out and see treetops. :) Plus, a nature reserve across the road which looks amazing when it rains.
    - I have a long black coffee with cream that is just blowing my mind right now.
    - We are all grateful for you too, Matt!!

    Add to that…
    - It’s gorgeous spring weather here in Perth, and its already Friday!
    - Ive just spontaneously decided to do a road trip across the USA, plus learn Italian and spend a month in Florence! Im aiming for all three things in the next 18 months. Already got my plane ticket booked to LA.
    - I am the healthiest and happiest right now, that I have ever been!

    Thanks for the mood boost Matt, sometimes you dont realise how lucky you are until you count your blessings! xx

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Beautiful list, Mia. :) Thanks so much for sharing!

      You have so many exciting things in your life right now that I suspect you’ve actually transformed into a ball of energy. ;) I’d be bouncing off the walls from that coffee alone, but a road trip, European plane ticket and a month in Florence? Good lord. Please keep me updated as you progress with all of this glorious stuff!

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  13. Catherine says:

    Oh, how beautiful. Thanks for reminding me to take the time to appreciate such simple pleasures!

  14. Richard Jones says:

    Gratitude keeps perspective simple for me. Great blog topic, btw!

    Side note, this cool Houston weather has been awesome. Cool air, clear skies, warm sunrays, beautiful!

    Greatful I can feel it, see it, and hear it all. Each day ends to a new one beginning. Stand in your present day as your future sneaks up behind you waiting to excite you with unknown wealth of experience not yet collected.

    Today I live, everyday.

    Greatest thing in the world lately is enthusiastic hugs from my boys when I first see them for the day, and after getting home each day from work.

    Im more of a blurb, than list, guy. :-)

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Beautiful blurbs, man. :) I especially dig the one about the enthusiastic hugs. I’m not sure when kids will make an appearance in my future, but it’s little pleasures like that that make me even more excited for what’s to come.

  15. Rich says:

    Gratitude is playing a bigger part in my life, I tag onto different things on diferent days depending on what’s going on but these are the ‘constants’;

    My wife and daughter – to be joined by a new son in 5 weeks time. My little girl is 4, and never fails to amaze me on a daily basis. Any time spent with them is precious but if it involves hitting up our favourite cafe and being outdoors, even better!!

    Physical activity – specifically riding my bikes. Sometimes on the road bike, but I still love my BMX bike (I’m 37!) and a good track session with the guys (especially if I improve my riding in some way) has me buzzing for days. I hit the gym sporadically and get an endorphin rush, but its all about the bikes for me.

    My early morning coffee – heaven in a mug. ‘Nuff said.

    Sunny days and blue skies – automatically lifts me up.

    That fresh out of the shower feeling – love it!!

    I could ream off a few more, but those are the ones that spring to mind straight away.

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Hey, Rich! Glad to see you, man.

      I really like your list — it’s full of those simple, precious things that too often we forget to appreciate, but can make all the difference in the world (and in our attitude) when we do. Many congrats are in order for the upcoming son, too. Sounds like you have a lot of happiness all around you. :)

  16. Chase Night says:

    Oh, #9. I’ve been in Arkansas for the last two months, but this week I’ve been back in Texas with Alex’s family. I get so town between the two skies. There’s such freedom in the unbroken edges of a Texas sky, but there’s such warmth in the mountains that surround my hometown like a hug from Mother Nature.

    P.S. Alex’s father had to have a section of his colon removed because of cancer, and his doctor told him it was IMPERATIVE that he eat like a caveman from now on. He’s really into cooking so it would be awesome if you had any recommendations for paleo-style cookbooks.

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      I know what you mean, man. I fell in love with the mountains surrounding Los Angeles when I was back in Cali. The Texas blue is astonishing in its own right, but there’s something comforting about being able to look out any window and see those tall peaks in the distance.

      P.S. I’m very sorry to hear about Alex’s dad. I’m also kind of impressed that the doctor recommended a Paleo diet! Mixed emotions abound. Regarding cookbooks, I haven’t looked into too many, but I can definitely vouch for both of Mark Sisson’s Primal cookbooks. The Quick and Easy meal one looked pretty spectacular when I thumbed through it at the bookstore.

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