This is part of an ongoing series on happiness. I’m going to continue sharing everyday moments, experiences, and activities where I feel most happy. Since I believe the pursuit of happiness is something that binds humanity, and since one of the major reasons to attain financial freedom in the first place is to improve one’s happiness, I find it important to share aspects of my life where I feel like the pursuit of happiness is most successful. I hope to show through these regular insights that not only does it not take much (or any) money to improve one’s happiness, but also that financial freedom provides additional opportunities (via more time) to boost happiness.
Ahh, the coffee shop.
You know what you’re getting into the moment you enter.
The smell of freshly ground coffee beans. The trendy music overhead. The people gathering around tables, chatting away.
I walk in, set my computer up, order and grab my coffee, put my headphones on, and settle in.
I’m about to engage in one of the things I like best: writing.
This is my office these days.
It’s a far cry from the old office at the dealership.
And I really couldn’t be happier about that.
See, the definition of one’s “office” takes on a whole new meaning when it’s one you pick for yourself. There’s a world of difference between an office you have to go to and one you choose to go to. Wanting to do something is not at all like having to do something.
When I first quit my job, more than three years ago, I figured I’d end up just working from home most of the time.
After 10 or so hours at the car dealership, I used to look forward to nothing more than just going home and relaxing.
So I assumed that being home more would naturally be better.
But I quickly realized that working from home kind of sucks.
The main reason is that working from home quickly blurs the line between “workplace” and “refuge”. You’re no longer “going home” or “leaving work”. You’re both at work and at home at the same time. And it’s very strange, at least for me. Working from home reduces the value I find in going/being home. I started to feel like I was losing that longing feeling for home.
Moreover, it’s hard to get work done (using the word “work” pretty loosely here) when you’re at home, distracted by all of the various possibilities that surround you.
The dog wants attention. I could check the news. What’s in the refrigerator? So on and so forth.
In addition, it’s not fun or nice to be alone all the time.
Although I’m a proud introvert, I have no desire to constantly be by myself. Even a diehard introvert needs occasional human interaction.
The coffee shop offers me an opportunity to get out of the house and get some fresh air. There are people there, enjoying the coffee and ambiance. The Wi-Fi is fast and reliable. The chairs and tables are comfortable. And I have a largely distraction-free zone to spend a few hours reading and writing, which is when I’m really in my “happy place”.
Plus, the coffee isn’t too bad.
I used to have a very small assigned desk. That was my designated area, whether I liked it or not.
But I now have my choice of multiple coffee shops in my area. And I have my choice of any table I choose. I can mix it up as much as I like.
Lastly, I always enjoy any opportunity to use the products and/or services of companies I’m invested in. As a Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) shareholder, it pains me little to spend the money on coffee (or tea), knowing that I’m contributing to my own bottom line and growing dividend.
And at a few bucks a visit, it’s just another example of how it takes very little money to be really happy in life.
The funny thing about it is that a lot of people out there have these giant houses they’re never at, because they’re so busy at work making the money necessary to pay the giant mortgages. And so home becomes even more of a sanctuary at that point, due to the strenuous work and hours needed to cover the bills. Yet it becomes increasingly difficult to spend time in that “happy place” due to the costs of upkeep.
Meanwhile, I live in a small apartment. And I’m able to spend hours at my local Starbucks, which is rather sprawling, for almost nothing at all. The coffee shop becomes my “happy place”, due to my ability to work on projects I enjoy and care about. And home is still the sanctuary it always was, except it’s now even easier to be there, as the upkeep is minimal and I’m never more than a few miles or so away when I’m at the coffee shop.
Financial freedom has allowed me to spend my time however I choose. And I’m very happy to be able to spend a good chunk of it at the local coffee shop. I feel more motivated and productive than ever when I’m there. And I actually look forward to coming home after a job well done.
How about you? Do you enjoy your local coffee shop? Would it make a good office, if you had the opportunity?
Thanks for reading.