As humans we take things for granted, and its’ only when we lose them or don’t have access to things that we learn to appreciate them, and realize how much we need them and miss them. Throughout life we learn by hook or by crook what works for us, and makes life that bit more enjoyable and pleasant. They maybe small pleasures, but they make the difference between a good day and one that could have been worse…

  1. Clean fresh air ~ I’ve lived in London, Hong Kong, Boston, Los Angeles, and New York, and if the smog doesn’t get you, then the humidity during summer will. Breathing in cool, clean, and fresh air is hard these days, but when you do, it’s a joy. After spending humid summers in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, air conditioning isn’t the same as inhaling fresh air. Trying to sleep in humidity is a nightmare, and I get cranky, besides feeling sticky and uncomfortable. I’m always in a better mood when there is fresh air (but preferably no rain).
  2. A home cooked meal ~ A while back my kitchen ceiling collapsed, and I had to learn to live without a kitchen until the insurance was sorted out. How I missed a home cooked meal! Having microwave meals when you have no choice isn’t fun. I’ve also traveled the world and worked abroad, that meant eating out all of the time, and after a while,  I craved a simple home cooked meal. It can taste better than anything else, even if it’s simply egg and chips, but how you want them. I missed making my own pasta dishes, adding my own combination of sauces, and scrambling my eggs just how I liked them. I remember going to my friend’s house and asking if I could make a bowl of pasta for myself because I missed it so much and she thought it was strange. Only when you don’t have it do you miss it.
  3. Honest and true friendships ~ Many of us lose friends because they drift away, or there is a falling out and no one makes up. I found out how many true friends I had when I moved house, and in some ways it was a test—one that many sadly failed, however, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve also been surprised at the friendships that have grown and endured the test of time, and they weren’t the ones I was expecting.
  4. The consequences of morality and integrity ~ I’ve learnt that having morals and integrity comes with consequences, because people don’t value them. It may mean financial hardship, courtroom battles, the loss of friendships, or rifts with family members when you choose integrity over money and loyalty. The important thing is that you can look yourself in the mirror and know you did the right thing, and not cheat. I can sleep at night as my conscience is clear, although I know many of my former friends may still sleep soundly, but they, as I discovered lacked morals and integrity. One can only be loyal when someone is honest; to cover up a deceit enables them, and makes you complicit.  People have expected me to lie for them or to go along with activities that were less than honest out of a misguided sense of loyalty or naivety, and I have said ‘no’. Some friends were lost, but really I found out what they were really like.
  5. The importance of my mental health ~ These days, we are told we are supposed to put up with things because that’s what strong people do. I would disagree, because your mental health is important, and it can be worn down when people try to brainwash you, or expect you do to things because they can (an abuse of power). Never underestimate your mental health, and put it first above trying to please others, or doing something you don’t want to do. Stand up for yourself diplomatically, but never let anyone tell you that you are weak because you disagree with something.
  6. Silence ~ Never underestimate the power of silence—hearing your own thoughts with no distractions is rare these days with cellphones, and apps going off all of the time. I actually switch mine off these days, and I think back to the days when I used to have three (work), and answered them day and night. Learn to switch it off, and you will discover a realm of contentment.
  7. Being a vegetarian ~ I became a vegetarian as a teenager when there was a salmonella scandal, followed by a mad cow disease outbreak, so it just made sense to be safe. A quarter of a decade later, I think it’s kept me healthier than most of my peers and made me examine food labels and my diet. I’m not one of those vegetarians that preaches as I like a pizza every now and then, and adore onion rings (vegetarian, but not exactly healthy), but it has made me more responsible about my diet and health. I question where my food has come from, and what really is in it. A loaf of bread isn’t just wheat, water, and yeast these days—some contain sugar and animal fats. Read and be aware.
  8. A decent and reliable pen ~ I’m always on the hunt for a good pen that writes quickly, and smoothly. It’s not a lot to ask, but ballpoints run out, gel pen tips can break, and fountain pens are too messy. Whenever I find one I like I buy them in bulk, because there is nothing better than writing with a pen where the ink flows and the barrel is easy to hold. My pet hate is a pen running out, and I keep them everywhere in the house or in my bag. In fact I can have a panic attack if I try to write and can’t find a pen that works. My current favorites are uniball and zebra pens, in black ink of course.
  9. Trusting my intuition ~ I can’t guarantee that everyone’s intuition is going to be right, but in my own experience it has been right at least 90% of the time. What I needed to do was trust it rather than listen to other people who dismissed it. We have intuition for a reason, and we should use it rather than doubt it.
  10. Manners ~ People take manners for granted—I don’t. It doesn’t matter how well educated you are, or how rich you are, if you don’t have manners, then you are a poor person. I’ve always been a sticker for manners, and if people don’t exhibit them, then that first impression lasts. You can never say ‘thank you’ or ‘please’ too often, and is better to say it and mean it, than not to out of misguided entitlement. Manners are free, simple to use, and I ask why don’t people use them? Perhaps they have never been taught, or that they think it doesn’t matter; they always matter, and even if someone ignores you, the simple fact is that it is they who have no manners. You may not ever see that person again, but a thank you goes a long way and make a person feel appreciated and their day a better one. I’ve been on the other side, and it does make a difference.
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