As far back as I can remember, my father came home for lunch. I’m sure it wasn’t every day, but in my mind it was.
He worked at a bank and did quite well, slowly but surely climbing the ladder in the industry. And yet, as best I remember, most days he came home for lunch, sitting on a stool at our counter.
Most days, he ate a sandwich with a few slices of deli meat, plain potato chips, and French Onion dip. Or, on occasion, he’d eat a hot dog on a slice of bread.
Again, these are just my memories. My dad, recently retired, might tell a different story of his lunch menu variety, but this is the endearing image I have of my father as he came home for lunch each day.
He grew up on a family farm in South Dakota where most lunches were no different than the ones he continues to eat even today. His family upbringing clearly shaped his expectations for lunch.
I, my father’s son after all, have strayed very little from the model he set for me. My lunch, almost every day, are the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. If there are no leftovers, I will sometimes have a bowl of soup or a tuna fish sandwich.
My tastes, overall, are quite simple. I own a 2005 Honda Accord, I wear a black V-neck t-shirt purchased at the local outlet mall, my tennis racket is 20 years old, I order black coffee at coffee shops, and my hair products (a topic of much conversation on YouTube) are bought off the shelf at Target.
I appreciate a fancy dinner when I have one… a luxurious hotel should I find myself there… or fine art when I view it. But for everyday living, I am content with simple tastes.
Simple tastes, in my opinion, get a bad rap.
Some may think I am unrefined for eating leftovers every day for lunch or missing out on the joy of living by not booking expensive accommodations when I travel, but I disagree entirely.
There are many benefits that accompany having simple tastes. Let me list a few of them for you.
Underappreciated joys of simple tastes:
1. Enjoyment is easy to find.
When your tastes are simple, it is easy to find things you enjoy. I can be just as happy eating leftovers for lunch as I would be sitting down at a fancy restaurant. One is just more achievable on a regular basis.
2. Easier to entertain.
I’m easy to entertain. If you wanted to treat me for dinner, you should feel no pressure in what you prepare. Truly, serve me homemade tacos and I’d be just as happy as if you served me prime rib. Or pick any restaurant for dinner, I’ll be happy.
Again, don’t mishear me on this. I LOVE prime rib, but my tastes are simple. Ground beef tacos make me just as happy.
3. Living within your means.
As I’ve written previously, there are benefits to living within your means that go even beyond the subject matter of this article— freedom, peace, and opportunity (for example). When your tastes are simple, life costs less and living within your means is easier than you might have thought.
4. Less lifestyle inflation.
Lifestyle inflation refers to an increase in spending when an individual’s income goes up. It is why many are never able to get ahead financially—personal expenses simply rise with personal income. When your tastes are simple, there is less opportunity for lifestyle inflation to take over.
5. More gratitude.
We are faced with two choices every day: 1) We can be grateful for the things we have; or 2) We can focus on all the things we wish we had.
When you are able to find joy and contentment in the simplest of things, gratitude is an easier choice to make.
6. Less influenced by trends, labels, and advertising.
Too often, people pay a premium just for the privilege of becoming a walking billboard. Personally, I am not impressed by fancy or expensive brands just for the sake of being able to show off the logo.
Same with advertising and changing trends. As Nate Berkus says, “Trends exist to make people feel badly about what they don’t have.” When your tastes are simple, you are less likely to be influenced by them.
7. More opportunity to splurge when necessary.
There is another benefit of having simple tastes that I should mention. If you are not spending routinely on expensive things, there is more money available to spend when the splurge is truly desired.
While my wife and I have always lived on a modest income, every five years we take a trip to celebrate a milestone anniversary (10, 15, 20…). Because our tastes are not extravagant on a day-to-day basis, that is something we have always been able to afford.
8. Easier to make decisions. Less time wasted.
There is a direct correlation, in very practical ways, between simple tastes and time. For example, it is easier to make decisions when traveling, shopping, or even planning tomorrow’s lunch at the office.
Again, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying it is wrong to enjoy nice things at times. But when you are satisfied with simple things on a daily basis, time (and money) is saved.
9. More opportunity for impact.
I’m going to make a bold statement here, take it or leave it.
Maybe it’s because of my upbringing, but when I think of the people I most want to emulate in my life, rarely do I think of the flashy types. I suppose, in the moment, there is something seductive about the person with the expensive car, outfit, or drink.
But in the long run, it is those who have learned to become content with the simple things in life that inspire the most. It seems to me their simpler tastes have provided more opportunity for impact in other ways.
There are, of course, some people who pursue minimalism because of their fancy tastes. Owning fewer items allows them to have higher quality, more expensive things. I understand that fully.
But for me, I have a certain level of joy and contentment in keeping my tastes simple, I think you will too.