Nostalgia for simpler times is undoubtedly a part of aging. Yet the burgeoning minimalist movement, which seems to be most active among people younger than me, indicates that on some level life today is uncomfortably complex. Talking about this with my running partner stirred a few thoughts. So picture this: It seems two rabbis were jogging down the street when . . .

How to Live Better with Less

Two weeks ago I said goodbye to beautiful Point Loma and rejoined civilian life. Notable changes include having to decide what to wear each morning, driving my daughter to and from school, and viewing brown grass out my bedroom window instead of the Pacific Ocean. But perhaps the biggest and most difficult to accept is living in our new house in Los Angeles. When I left active duty last year we found a gorgeous 1920’s Spanish bungalow with a separate finished garage that I used for my office and library. Suffice it to say I spent an hour sweeping up rat dropping in the garage of our new house.

Fact is we were fortunate to find it. Supply is short in our neighborhood. And our landlord is terrific (I’d say so even if he didn’t read my blog!) So when my running partner asked how my new house was I felt guilty for complaining about what was essentially a matter of aesthetics. Laughing, he reflected on the idea of

How quickly comforts become necessities

Slap forehead with heel of hand.

For eight months I lived in a hotel room, albeit ten feet from the ocean. Somehow I did without most of the comforts of home: just my navy uniforms, exercise clothes, one set of civvies, about 20 books, and rarely ate hot food. Yet life was enjoyable. I had no expectation of luxury because I was living away from my family on a military base.

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Back home on the weekends and now for good, my life seems drab, enhanced by neither an ocean view nor elegant architecture. Yet I am blessed to have a home that is much more comfortable than navy bachelor housing and pretty much any place I lived in as a kid. More importantly, I have my wonderful wife and precocious daughter and the blessing of comforts that are necessities.

Previously I wrote that managing expectations is a key component to happiness. Surrounded by the affluence and consumerist culture we enjoy in America it is easy to accustom yourself to accepting nothing less than the ideal. Yet the ideal is that unachievable Utopia that keeps you striving.

Happiness = Knowing which comforts are truly necessities

So I will better habituate to counting my blessings, fortunately with the help of the men with whom I have prayed for over 10 years. I will live with my priceless family and without an exquisite house. I will not become accustomed to comforts that are not necessities. And the next time my running partner asks me how I am doing the canvas of my life will be brightly painted.

Hmmmm, I wonder what I’d be writing about if instead of jogging, two rabbis went into a bar . . .

Question – How do you prevent yourself from becoming too expectant of comfort?

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