Stress, anxiety and worry are caused by too much future and not enough presence. Being present is a wonderful thing. Treat yourself!
My Nanny had modest tastes. Her only indulgence were mint imperials. No ‘la dolce vita’ in her house unless you count episodes of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ in front of the three-bar electric fire.
She wasn’t extravagant but she knew what made her happy- she took enormous pleasure in slipping me a fiver when my mam wasn’t looking. She loved days out and bath salts.
If you haven’t lived through two world wars and done your washing in a tub in the yard, it’s hard to know how tough things were for people of that generation. I’ve never had a bath in front of the fire or worked a ten-hour shift down a coal mine. In fact, I still complain about the paper round I did when I was thirteen.
Even when the goings hard, you can take time to smell life’s roses.
My Aunty Agnes had plastic covers on her sofa to protect it from wear and tear. She probably lived her whole life without her bum making contact with the furniture. She had a room she never went in and china she kept for best.
When she died they found a cupboard full of unused Christmas presents; pairs of slippers, scarves and gloves, still in their wrappers. The slippers she died in were worn out, it was only the holes that were keeping them together. She was keeping everything for best.
What is best? If today isn’t good enough, when is?
If you have things squirrelled away for a special occasion--a bottle of vintage wine, a fancy tablecloth or silver-plated cutlery- use them tonight, even if you’re just sat at home watching Take Me Out and eating alphabetti spaghetti.
You are alive right now! Keeping things for a rainy day is disrespectful to the present moment, as if you’re telling yourself that your best times are always ahead of you. Tomorrow doesn’t exist if you’re always waiting for something better.
Use the good china, wear your best hat and open that bottle of champagne you’ve been saving. Because it’s always and only ever now, now is the time to take pleasure in the little things. Put on your new slippers and think about what makes you happy. You don’t have to blow your life savings on a yacht to enjoy life’s moments.
I took my family to the fair last month and although I’m too scared to go on the rides that whoosh you upside down and hurl you a hundred feet in to the air, I did nail a very tricky hall of mirrors and hooked a couple of fierce looking ducks. There was a moment, when we were all in hysterics at something, that I realised I was truly happy in this moment. I remembered Kurt Vonnegut’s advice. I thought, ‘If this isn’t wonderful, I don’t know what is’.