The Enchanted Outlook



Why I Ditched my Travel Bucket List


When I was younger, I had a dream of visiting all seven continents. Ambitious? Maybe. But truth be told, I was very fortunate to be off to a good start. I had already visited Africa and Europe and I live in North America. Since my husband is Korean American, there was a good chance that we would visit Asia at some point in our lifetimes as well. I’d had a good friend who had already accomplished this goal of visiting every continent in her early twenties, which made it seem even more achievable.

Despite the fact that I was farther along with this goal than many people my age, I realized it wasn’t making me happy. The reason was that I was focusing on this one big goal rather than traveling with intention. I have talked about before the impact that daily intentional activities have on our happiness. Trips that didn’t help me reach that goal felt insignificant, rather than the gifts that they were. Furthermore, I worried how disappointed I would feel if I never met my goal, rather than feeling gratitude that I had the ability to travel, a privilege denied to many.

As I have grown older, I have focused less on big life goals and more on living with daily intention. While going through this change, I came across this quote:

Once a year, go someplace you have never been before.

This quote is often falsely attributed to the Dalai Lama and I can’t find its originator, but nevertheless, it stuck with me. To me, this became a much more proactive, intentional way to vacation than focusing on one big bucket list. Moreover, it depended much less on how much time I had because the trip could be the next town over or a cross-country road trip. It depended less on how much money I had, because I could camp out in a tent or splurge on a five-star hotel. It also depended less on personal limitations, like who would watch my dog or if I had a physical condition later in life that limited travel.

The main reason I like this philosophy of travel better, though, is that I had four continents left, but *hopefully* I could have 60+ years. That is potentially 56 more opportunities to get excited, to plan, to daydream about my upcoming trips, than if I was focusing on reaching the remaining continents. It means every year I will go somewhere new! I think that’s pretty exciting! And hey, maybe I will still get to visit every continent, but if I do, my mindset for going will be, in my opinion, more healthy.

I even keep this philosophy in mind on a weekly or even daily basis. Since I have recently moved to a new city, I have ample opportunity to explore new places regularly, whether it be a new grocery store or a park down the road. When given the choice, nine times out of ten I will choose a novel choice over a familiar one because novelty has been shown to be correlated with happiness.

The first year I started this new plan was the year of our honeymoon; we went on a cruise, so I got to visit three new places: Haiti, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman. Last year, we didn’t go on any big trips (though we attended two out-of-town weddings at locations we had been before), but we did go to Cherokee Casino, and I had never been to Cherokee, NC before. And this year we are going to… Raleigh, NC!

I’ve stopped in a mall in Raleigh, once, and spent some time in Durham, but I haven’t spent time in Raleigh Proper, so I’m pretty excited. Pictures and details to come!

Have you ever had a time when you re-evaluated a life goal because it wasn’t making you happy?

Minimalism and Little Treasures


Over the past few years, I, like a lot of people, have been trying to escape excessive consumerism and have been going through a “stuff journey.” In this process, I have culled a lot of stuff I owned and extremely reduced my purchases as well. 

What does this have to do with enchantment, you ask? Well, I realized something strange about myself that I would never have learned if I hadn’t severely cut down on shopping. Shopping makes me happy. Just a little bit. I get that “zing” that I suppose is my brain receiving a dopamine boost. Maybe it’s the very primitive part of me feeling the rewards of “the hunt.” I think our brains need that feeling, don’t you? In some shape or form? The act of searching, comparing, and deciding on a product is something that moves me forward and gives me drive. To me, that psychological aspect of consuming and its affect on the awards center of the brain is something that minimalism as a movement often doesn’t fully acknowledge.

I am not sure that I have the perfect answer to this. I know that I don’t like spending lots of money. Nor do I like unnecessary clutter. Nor do I like focusing on consumerism as a lifestyle and the negative consequences it can have.

My current happy medium is what I have recently called “little treasures.” I try to buy a little something every week. I got the idea from a relative who used to give little gifts, such as lip gloss and the like, that she called “happys.”

For me, my weekly “little treasure” is a thoughtful something. Often, it’s a needed something. I try to make it a responsible something, too. For instance, one week I purchased my favorite aromatherapeutic, eco-friendly cleaning product. Another week, I purchased some locally-made soap. Another week, I purchased a fair trade bracelet. Another week, a little holiday garland. Another week, a favorite childhood film. Another week, a t-shirt from my favorite second-hand store. All of my purchases are things that are very inexpensive (between $5 and $15) but that I know I will get good use out of.  I allow myself to contemplate one week what I will purchase the next. It’s a little something fun to look forward to.

I’m only a couple of months into my “little treasures” project, so I will have to let you know how it goes when I have practiced it longer. So far, though, it seems to strike a good balance for me. It makes me grateful for the very simplest of things in my life. It also takes my focus away from those bigger, more expensive items, which I now take much more time to contemplate and research before purchasing to make sure they are truly wanted and needed. While I may pay a little extra for the aromatherapeutic cleaning product or a local soap, I end up spending less money in the long-run because every purchase is thoughtful and I use the products very carefully.

The link between minimalism and enchantment is something I will be exploring more in future posts. Please let me know if there is an aspect of this you would like me to address. Do you love minimalism? Hate it? Let me know. 

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