Taken by itself, “luxury” can conjure up images of opulence, privilege and great expense.
But in today’s consumer-driven society, a new definition of luxury is emerging, based more on experiences that enhance well-being, that have the power to transform us.
What contributes to your well-being? A good night’s sleep? Delighting your taste buds with healthy and delicious foods? Nourishing your soul and senses by watching a sunset, gazing at a magnificent work of art, listening to a Beethoven concerto or walking a secluded stretch of beach?
I have a morning ritual which includes brewing espresso. I make it in one of those iconic Italian stovetop machines. I use the best espresso available and as it perks its intoxicating brew, I froth the milk and pour it all in a beautiful cup and saucer.
Because it is comforting, delicious and beautiful to look at, doing this feels luxurious to me. (In contrast, when I meet someone for an AM coffee at Starbucks, it might be tasty enough and set up the conversation, but one would not describe it as luxurious).
I start my day doing something that delights me, indulges me, something I can savor and feel almost transformed by, yet it is a simple thing.
This all has much to do with experiencing versus acquiring. When we experience something that nurtures us on a deep level, it is transformative, freeing and luxuriant.
When this is what happens to us on a vacation, it can have a lot of mileage.
Staying at a five-star hotel, eating at a Michelin starred restaurant can induce a sense of luxury, but once it’s over, the effects can fade with the memory. We cannot easily reproduce this unless we do it again.
But when a trip gives you experiences that you can integrate into your life when you get back home, then your investment of time and money has been made in enhancing your life forever, not just for the week or two you were away.
In Italy, for example, this can be anything from learning how to make pasta, being educated on the health benefits of real olive oil, learning how to look at sculpture with new eyes, understanding how to disconnect from technology, appreciating the value of taking an afternoon catnap, setting a beautiful table and fully enjoying a meal with friends or family, reconnecting with your creativity through cooking, making music, drawing, painting or writing.
If any of this comes back with you and becomes part of how you live your life more intentionally and beautifully, then you have truly experienced a luxury getaway.
What might you do today that would feel luxurious? What might your next trip include that would give you something lasting and inspiring?