Trying to be Conscious: Luxury on the Cheap

Trying to be Conscious: Luxury on the cheap

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Luxury: “Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort”. Cécile discovers that, even in Switzerland, luxury doesn't have to come at a high price.

Is there enough luxury in your life?

In Zürich, you can find a watch for $200,000 and get fresh truffle grated directly on your plate for $10 a gram. School girls walk around in designer clothes with the last $3000 ‘it bag’ and Chanel diamond earrings.

This kind of luxury never attracted me. However, I get envious of people sitting on a terrace in the sun, drinking coffee or just reading a book while I have to go to work. If the definition of luxury is “Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort”, then sitting outside in the afternoon is luxurious. Thinking about it, there are dozens of little inessential moments conducive to pleasure and comfort. And the good news is, they don’t cost much money so you make them happen more often.

  • Sleep-ins and naps: Oh the feeling of decadence when I slide under my blankets for an hour of sleep in the middle of the afternoon! And the best is that naps and sleeps-in are totally free.
  • A ride in someone else’s car: I don’t enjoy driving but love to sit in someone else’s car. A friend of mine has a brand new Audi. Sometimes she drives me back home after a night out and I feel like I have a personal chauffeur for 15 minutes. The smell of the soft leather combined with the sounds from the streets relax me so much that I could almost fall asleep.
  • Sports socks: I read on a Zen website that changing socks during the day could give a renewed energy. I tried and realised it did feel good to wear fresh socks. Then I started paying more attention to the kind of socks I bought. I found luxury socks disguised as simple sport socks at H&M. They feel so soft and fluffy, it’s a real treat to wear them.
  • Sunbathing: It feels good because it has no real purpose, it’s only pure pleasure and a bit of vitamin D. Sitting half an hour on a sunny terrace in a café is a piece of holiday in the middle of a busy workweek.
  • Flirting, being smiled at: There is a place called Pasta Station near work. The cooks and waiters are all Italians and flirty. I’m always welcomed with a “Ciao bella signora” when I walk in. Then the waiter, knowing that I’m French, talks to me in bad but adorable Italo-French. He calls me bella signora again when I leave the shop with my pasta and gives me his best smile every time. These innocent interactions turn a boring trip to get lunch into a scene from the film “Roman Holiday”. And I don’t have to pay extra for it.
  • Baths: Okay, baths are not eco-friendly but they feel so good I’d have a hard time giving them up. I try to limit myself to one bath a week but on bad days, nothing else in the world could make me feel better than a bath full of scented bubbles. To make it more luxurious, I take my time, light a few candles, and let my body relax in the warm water.
  • Time for breakfast: I love breakfast food: fresh bread with butter and jam, cheese, croissants, pancakes, French toast, Bircher Muesli, omelettes, boiled eggs… Unfortunately, I can’t eat all of that everyday but I wish! I’m always envious of American families in TV Shows, having a huge breakfast all together at the table in the morning. It probably never even happens in real American families but I’d certainly do it everyday if I had the time (and an American family lol). So when I don’t have to start working too early, I lay a nice table, toast fresh bread and take my time. On weekends, Nick makes me pancakes and we eat them together on our balcony. It feels even more luxurious and special because it can only happen on weekends.
Trying to be Conscious: Luxury on the Cheap
  Dream breakfasts
Trying to be Conscious: Luxury on the Cheap
  • Riding my bike to work: It’s the luxury of freedom. I can go whenever I decide to go and my bike takes me away from grumpy people in public transportation. My way to work is a path along a river sheltered by tall trees. It’s 10 minutes of breathing and sheer relaxation (except when stupid people decide to block MY way with their stupid dogs or on their own bikes; or when I’m late and have to risk my life to be on time because Swiss people are so fussy about punctuality.)
  • Freshly washed sheets and towels: I love the smell of clean laundry and the touch of soft sheets.

Most of my cheap luxuries require more time than money. Hence, once I earn enough to pay bills and rent, between getting more time and getting more money, I chose more time. Right after writing this post, I stumbled upon this article from Stanford Business School called: If Money doesn’t make you happy, consider time. Check it out, it offers a fresh, well researched point of view on the following theory:

“Time, not money, is your most precious resource. Spend it wisely.”

I started asking my students and friends what they considered a luxury in their life and got interesting, surprising answers. So I might write a second post about cheap luxuries including their answers… and yours! What little thing/habit would you call a luxury in your life even though it doesn’t cost you much?

Reprinted with permission from Trying to be Conscious

CecileCécile is a French girl who decided to settle for a while in Zürich after trying New York for a year. When she is not teaching French to the Swiss, she sits in cafés for long hours and writes. You can find her writings on her blog Trying to be Conscious and now on Expatica. Enjoy!


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