Every day luxuries: “The things you use every day should be the best-designed things you can get”

I don’t know where I found this, so I can’t give credit. I clipped it as soon I saw it and saved it, but I failed to include the link. Maybe I was too excited about the wisdom imparted here:

It’s not bad to own fine things that you like. What you need are things that you GENUINELY like. Things that you cherish, that enhance your existence in the world. The rest is dross. Do not “economize.” Please. That is not the point. The economy is clearly insane. Even its champions are terrified by it now. It’s melting the North Pole. So “economization” is not your friend. Cheapness can be value-less. Voluntary simplicity is, furthermore, boring. Less can become too much work.

The items that you use incessantly, the items you employ every day, the normal, boring goods that don’t seem luxurious or romantic: these are the critical ones. They are truly central. The everyday object is the monarch of all objects. It’s in your time most, it’s in your space most. It is “where it is at,” and it is “what is going on.”

It takes a while to get this through your head, because it’s the opposite of the legendry of shopping. However: the things that you use every day should be the best-designed things you can get.


I don’t need or want a lot of stuff. But I want the stuff I use often to be great, to give me pleasure in using it.

“Less, but better” is the mantra for me.

Kitchen tools. My razor. The furniture I sit on. The phone in my pocket. I want to delight in using these everyday things because I do use them daily.

One of my favorite purchases in the past year was this kitchen trash can. Yes, silly, I know, and expensive for a trash can. But it’s actually quite nice looking. And, even better. I love that it’s open, that there’s no lid. There’s no friction in throwing something away—no pedal to step on or lid to lift. Both its form and function are a delight.

I get a tiny tingle of pleasure (maybe microscopically tiny in this case) from using that trash can every time I throw something away. But those tiny tingles add up, as do the tiny pains of annoyance from using subpar or ugly things.

I appreciate the grace of great things, and adding more moments of delight each day or eliminating more moments of frustration or “meh” will make my days shine a bit more.

The gift of a blank brain

Author Michael Harris on living in the Internet age and the prevalent tendency to check your phone as soon as you wake up:

“When you wake up, you have this gift of a blank brain. You could fill it with anything. But for most of us, we have this kind of panic. Instead of wondering what should I do, we wonder what did I miss. It’s almost like our unconsciousness is a kind of failure and we can’t believe we’ve been offline for eight hours,” he says. It is habits like this that are insidious, not the internet itself. It is a personal thing.

This is not exclusive to the Internet era. Many of us used to wake up and immediately trudge to the front door to retrieve the daily newspaper to start our day.

But it’s exponentially easier to distract ourselves now, and content is infinite. The newspaper only took so long to thumb through.

I typically do a quick scan of a handful of apps when I wake up. A morning routine devoid of external inputs, though, at least in those first minutes of consciousness, could build some space for my brain to embrace a bit of blankness, to allow possibilities to percolate that would otherwise be swamped by those external inputs.

Those days where I make time for even ten minutes of meditation first thing in the morning are marked by a calmer, more solid beginning.

Embrace the gift of a blank brain more often. Sit with the quiet. Be patient. Listen, not to the noise piped in from the connected world, but to your own inner voice or just to your breath. 

Ants marching

 Whether you’re doing things right or just doing things to stay in step with the crowd, to stay busy and to complain (or brag) about being busy, it’s pointless if you’re not doing the right things. 

Beautifully empty

Our living room right now: IMG_7017We are not moving. We just had our floors repaired after our water heater died and tried taking as much of the rest of the house with it as it could.

We’ve been in this house for thirteen years. In spite of the hassle of fixing the floors, it’s worth it for the delight of seeing this floor look like new again.

But now I’m loving the stark emptiness. I’m not eager to have our furniture and stuff returned to where it was.

Of course, it’s not a museum piece. We live here and need somewhere to sit. 

Or do we?

The photo above reminded me of this famous photo below of a young and newly rich Steve Jobs, who was so loath to possess anything of merely average beauty that for a while he lived with just this Tiffany lamp and his stereo in his living room:

WOODSIDE, CA - DECEMBER 15: CEO of Apple Steve Jobs sits at his home in Woodside, CA on December 15, 1982. IMAGE PREVIOUSLY A TIME & LIFE IMAGE. (Photo by Diana Walker/SJ/Contour by Getty Images)
WOODSIDE, CA – DECEMBER 15: CEO of Apple Steve Jobs sits at his home in Woodside, CA on December 15, 1982. IMAGE PREVIOUSLY A TIME & LIFE IMAGE. (Photo by Diana Walker/SJ/Contour by Getty Images)
No worries. We will not be living like Steve. But we will use this opportunity to rethink what goes back in. If it’s not useful or beautiful to us, it really shouldn’t make the cut.