Finding Happiness in Life’s Little Pleasures

by Katy on December 6, 2013 · 24 comments


I lead a deliberately uncomplicated life. Sure, it can get busy sometimes, but mostly things are pretty simple here at Casa  Wolk-Stanley. As as a result of my keeping’ it simple life, I’m able to get the most inordinate amount of excitement from the smallest of things.

Today I woke up to a light dusting of snow, and from my reaction you’d think there was a foot of snow on the ground. But the amount didn’t matter, as it was exciting. Period.

I started to think about how the little things in life still give me the greatest of pleasure, whether it’s a long awaited library book or the perfect pair of socks. (Neither too thick nor too thin, a non-binding cuff, wooly, but not itchy and a cute pattern that isn’t too loud.)

I do believe that there’s a direct correlation between living simply and finding happiness with life’s little pleasures.

The perfect example is my how my family very rarely chooses the restaurant route for dinner. And because eating out is a infrequent treat, it makes it very special and memorable when it does happen. And when my mother ordered too much Chinese takeout and gave us her leftovers for last night’s dinner? That was pretty exciting!

Because we never get Chinese takeout, we were more than happy to take my mother’s leftovers.

Because we keep our lives simple, life’s little pleasures are still . . . well . . . pleasurable.

Do you feel that a simple life is correlated to being able to appreciate life’s little pleasures? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Van December 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

Aw, there will never be snow down here so I’ve been loving seeing the photos of it on blogs. I completely agree, as a simplicity advocate the little things are so indulgent. I’m going to buy soap and maaaybe even some shampoo soon. It’s like a decadent treat, haha, seriously 😀 When you buy less the things you do buy (especially “new”) are even more amazing.


Sharon Heritch December 6, 2013 at 10:50 am

To borrow a term from economists, we can call it a ‘virtuous spiral.’ Being grateful for small things allows you to simplify your life. Having a simple life allows you to notice and appreciate the small things.

Some theologians have called it ‘margin.’ The clear spaces at the edges of our lives that give us breathing space.

Well done.


Carolyn December 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

I couldn’t agree more, Katy!

My husband is such a good cook that we are often disappointed in restaurant meals and stressed by the hassle of keeping our young kids entertained at the table until food arrives. Not to mention not knowing what kind of processed stuff is in your meal.

And I an envious of your snow! It is supposed to get into the teens tonight here in Michigan and I sure would like a little snow.


NMPatricia December 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Sometimes I wish there was an agree or like with some responses. Carolyn – we feel the same about restaurants and I don’t feel I am THAT good of a cook. Which makes me wonder about restaurant food!


Barb December 6, 2013 at 11:37 am

Katy you are so right. I love the smell of fresh brewed coffee in the morning and sharing a first cup with my sweet husband as we watch the sunrise. That first rose in the spring makes my heart soar. I like seeing the rainbow in the soap bubbles as I wash up a few lunch dishes. And best of all, when the mail comes and there’s a letter from one of my little grandsons – heaven!


tna December 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm

One thing a simple life can do is free up time. If you are not running about in a complicated lifestyle you can stop and enjoy that beautiful sunset, breathe deeply the fresh air after a spring shower, go for a walk in the fall colors or winter wonderland. The world creates amusement parks, events, and venues to imitate natural beauty and pleasures but they are crowded, expensive, require travel and planning and so can be stressful….all that overload. Sometimes just being able to hear a birds song can lower your heart rate…and it’s free and usually right outside your front door.


Katy December 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Or . . . you can watch last night’s “Sound of Music” while repairing a Goodwill typewriter case.



Koliti December 7, 2013 at 10:15 am

I’ve heard people say that they did not even notice the birds singing until after they started working part-time or retired! Enjoy your life’s little delights and pleasures NOW!


Linda M December 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm

You are certainly correct. I remember reading in the Tightwad Gazette about the “wow factor”….if you keep raising the bar, it takes more and more to “wow” us….and our children. The simple things are so great and pleasurable. We, too, choose to keep our life simple. Less expensive, less stress, less accumulation….more savings, more relaxation, and more enjoyment.
So, when we do have “treats”….they are exactly that…Treats!
I am in the Midwest and we are in a winter storm…currently probably have 8 inches of snow and ice under it. It is sure pretty but can be very dangerous. We don’t have to go out so we will just relax and watch it snow. Would you like for me to send you some of this white stuff…LOL!


Kate in NY December 7, 2013 at 7:07 am

I was going to use the same example from The Tightwad Gazette – I always remember her story of how, during a rare trip to the mall, they bought their kids simple junior-sized ice cream cones – and they were all thrilled at the unexpected treat. She pointed out that she “could” have seen their excitement, and so the next time, gotten them all jumbo cones with hot fudge sauce (or whatever) – and they would have been thrilled again. But then the simple junior cones would have lost their appeal. Such an apt metaphor for . . . well, everything.


Katy December 7, 2013 at 10:49 am

I remember that analogy as well. Amy has such a succinct style of writing.



Megyn December 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm

This. Exactly this.

My husband has always been confused by me because I’m not the “typical” girl. I’m such a simple person that he has a hard time coming up with things I like. He finally asked me for a list, and today I got an email of kitten pictures. I really am THAT simple. I feel that the more simply I live, the more I have time to appreciate the beauty of nature (like the rare icicles and the ice coating on a leaf). I may not like cut flowers, but take me to a field of wildflowers, and I’m a happy lady 😉


A. Marie December 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Re: leftovers: Hey, I took the turkey carcass home from my friends’ Thanksgiving dinner and made stock with it. No false pride here.

Re: The Sound of Music Live: I’d love to know what other people thought. I didn’t watch it last night because (1) I thought I’d spare my DH the agony and (2) I have trouble staying up till 11 pm EST for any reason, but I’ve been watching clips of the musical numbers on YouTube, and on the basis of those alone, I’m inclined to give Carrie Underwood the benefit of the doubt. Of course, I haven’t seen any of the non-musical scenes–and I admit I was excessively diverted this morning by some of the snarkier comments on Twitter.


marie December 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Oh, I missed it. Have the granddaughter and another 8 yr old for the weekend. Maybe I can find it on Roku.


Jessica December 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Long time reader, first time commenting. I just want to say I love posts like these! They make me reevaluate and think of how I can make my life simpler. Thanks.


Diane December 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Definitely! My greatest pleasures are also the ones that cost no money. Next weekend there is a Boardwalk Walk About downtown to walk along the lake to see the new boardwalk that will extend the trail under the highway for another few miles. I’m so excited to be part of this adventure! And like you, today I picked up a novel and DVD on hold at the library and you would have thought I was in heaven! Living large on little is a good life indeed.


Deborah C. Williams December 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm

If you love living simply like like I do and your expectations are not set high then the simple pleasures are BIG tor you..Katy I totally agree with you..I can not only see by your pic how truly happy the snow makes you!! This picture made me happy!!


Karen December 6, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Thank goodness for this blog because when I read it I feel normal. I do like talking and interacting with people but sometimes all I want to do is take a walk by myself and look at nature. Or work in my yard and listen to the birds sing.


Katy December 7, 2013 at 10:51 am

Hah ha! Normal is good!



chicknlil December 7, 2013 at 5:53 am

I enjoy putting my feet up in the window and watching the traffic go by while I drink my coffee (loads of organic cream from my friend’s farm). Nothing tastes as good as food grown by your friends. I miss the farmers’ market. But, it’s the seasonality of living that creates the anticipation!
I like watching contented animals. When the sheep are happy and grazing with snow on their backs. Their tummies will grow over the winter, by spring they will be almost oblonged by babies! Then, one magical day, when the time is right, the lambs will start. I am always amazed when the new lambs get up, wobble around, and learn to nurse. It happens so quickly (30 min, birth to nurse). My job is to observe and assist if needed.
I get so much satisfaction when I can step in and correct things. My Dad and I found a cow who laid down to calve. The calf came fine, but Momma had her feet uphill and couldn’t get them under her to stand. This is very dangerous. A cow with its feet uphill Will die. Their rumen goes into overdrive, presses on the lungs and they smother. It takes minutes! We grabbed some wire from the back of the truck, made a loop over her head and rolled her back over. You just react with adrenaline and instinct. My Dad and I rolled a 1200 pound cow. She hopped up, like it was nothing! She started cleaning her calf. I will never forget that.
I love the night sky on the farm. I love to look at the stars on the blue black sky. The nasty pink glow from the city has increased over the years, but the sky still astounds me. Winter has the best skies. I love kittens, it’s not spring without kittens. I love wild mushrooms and berries, and spring greens. I like watching my customers’ children grow. Knowing that they’re eating well and healthy makes me happy. I like all of the seasons, they each have a different pace and feel. I like the rhythm of farm life and looking forward to the coming year.
I like this blog, because like Karen said, it makes me feel normal (:


Kimber December 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm

What a beautiful comment, chicknlil!


cathy December 7, 2013 at 10:18 am

I think you’re absolutely right. Yesterday I was thrilled to check out a book from the library (I’d been on the hold list awhile). Then I found three magazines for 50 cents each at the thrift shop, including the December 2013 Sunset. You’d have thought I won the lottery. I also went to a very local holiday market. Bought nothing, but spent 20 minutes sitting in my car watching the birds flit around in the trees. First Oregon Juncos of the season!

Driving home last night, I was able to enjoy everyone’s holiday lights, even the ones that (for me) are over-the-top. It was all beautiful against a backdrop of snow.

While I was out, my husband and kids made comfort food for dinner, then resumed what’s become an annual tradition: the pre-Christmas Harry Potter movie marathon. Since we own the DVDs, we can start and stop anywhere. Stopped halfway through Goblet of Fire last night.

I do sometimes wonder if I’m a slacker mom, but the truth is that my kids are much happier not having something scheduled every minute. They have time for video games and card games, the sports they’re into, and hanging out with friends. And because their father and I have always taken the time to enjoy things in nature, the boys are very observant, too–a beautiful sunset, butterflies and hummingbirds in the garden, tiny cucumbers on the vine, different birds trying out the knothole in our front tree, the phase of the moon.

Uncomplicated. That’s a great way to put it.


Mr. Everyday Dollar December 7, 2013 at 10:49 am

Katy, it’s funny you mention Chinese food. My SO and I have a guilty pleasure in getting General Tso’s Tofu from a local takeout place. It is shockingly delicious and inexpensive at less than $10 (a huge portion that we can share). We’ve even had it as a treat on Valentines day, curled up on the couch, watching Netflix.


Jo@simplybeingmum December 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm

You are undoubtedly the Meg Ryan of socks. I had the “when Harry met Sally” restaurant scene running through my head following your perfect sock description 😉


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