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5 Little Things that Enhance Life

In financial planning, it's easy to get caught in the trap of believing that dollars equate to happiness.  Assigning specific monetary targets to a multitude of financial/life goals can lead us to sway towards this belief (maybe even subconsciously).  That said, it's important for us all to take a step back from time to time and remind ourselves that money is only the tool that allows us to do the other things that bring us happiness, nothing more.  Instead, I am of the firm belief that a true, core happiness lies in noticing and appreciating the smaller things around you each day.  So aside from the more obvious appreciations in life (family, friends, etc.), I thought I would share a few of the little things that enhance my day to day.

1. A drive to nowhere:  This sounds strange, but an impromptu drive is my ultimate therapy.  Too often, we hop in the car so focused on getting to the next parking spot, that we don't enjoy the journey.  Try getting in the car one nice afternoon with no destination in mind.  Turn up that playlist from your glory days and just enjoy being out.  Try to remember that freedom and empowerment you once felt when driving for those first few years.  It's still there!

2. Mom and pop diners:  While out on a random Sunday drive (building off the last item), I love pulling over for a quick bite at the local diner.  Even when taking a long trip, bypassing the chain restaurant can be grounding.  I've noticed that the people are often nicer, the food better, and that the prices are usually light on your billfold.

3. Podcasts:  When combined with morning walks (another simple pleasure), a good podcast can spark the creative thinking that can really jump start your day.  From first glance, one might dismiss them as another form of AM radio, but they are much more than that.  Most podcasts are highly educational and to the point, while much more entertaining than a book on tape.  And there is no better way to shorten a work commute or visit to the gym.  But beware, they can become addictive.

Some of my favorites:  BiggerPockets Podcast, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, Freakonomics Radio, Masters in BusinessMonday Morning Podcast (Bill Burr)

4. Not knowing tomorrow:  In a world of endless information that can somewhat numb you to the wonder of the world, I take solace in the fact that tomorrow is unpredictable.  New joys, challenges and innovations are on the horizon, and we don't have a clue as to how they will all play out.  This is a humbling, but magical aspect of life.  It also gives me hope (maybe falsely) that my beloved Hokies might one day win a national title in something other than bass fishing!

5. A cold beer:  I'm obviously not alone here, but what is truly more rewarding than sitting down for a fresh, cold brew after a long, productive day of work?  Seriously.  It hits the taste buds and lowers the shoulders.  But there is one catch to note.  The euphoria of the cold one isn't quite the same on days you don't feel you've really earned it.  On those days, a beer might have you feeling a bit more like Bundy than Bond.

Take some time today to focus on a few small items in life that you enjoy.