A Little Luxury Goes A Long Way

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I liked this piece in FastCompany a lot:

Don’t confuse “luxury” with “expensive”: The word actually comes from the Latin luxus, which can be defined as “extra” or “excess.” It’s something you wouldn’t ordinarily have — and that’s why it means so much more. Two of the kids in my office ran track for the University of Pennsylvania. They still talk rapturously about one signal day, after a particularly long and hot run, when their coach decided to take them out for ice-cream sundaes. Years later, they still remember the cold ice cream and hot fudge. If their coach had taken them out for sundaes every day after practice, it wouldn’t have meant as much or stayed in their minds for so long. And they’d be fatties.

My friend Ami Dar, who founded and runs idealist.org, picks one day a year to declare a Sun Day. He waits for the weatherman to alert him to a Tiffany-blue sky, cool breezes, and sunshine — and then he alerts his staff that the doors to the office will be closed and they’d better spend some time outside. A few people may panic at the thought of rescheduling meetings and missing emails, but Ami tells me that they come back to work the next day with a little more pink in their cheeks and bounce in their steps. One of the keys to the success of a Sun Day? The element of surprise. It jars folks out of their routines and gives a (pleasant) shock to their senses. It also makes them feel doubly appreciated, in a way that you don’t when a gift is expected.

Columnist Nancy Lublin, founder of Dress for Success, runs a non-profit and has a new book out this month, “Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business.”

What luxury have you experienced in your workplace? Or given?

Journalism is a cheap-o world. A luxury is…a desk! In my retail job, though, our managers once brought in a whole catered feast to thank us for working so hard on Black Friday. That was cool, and kind.

What are your personal luxuries? For Lublin, it’s a killer pair of Louboutin shoes (about $500.)

Mine include: fresh flowers, pedicures, foreign travel the minute I can afford it, a large bag of Earl Grey tea leaves, occasional massages.

I agree with Lublin — if you take it for granted, it’s not a luxury.