Simplicity and Happiness According to Cate

IMG_8714I got the idea for this blog on my birthday. Compared to really poor families in Cambodia, Malaysia or even South Africa who live in one-room houses and could never afford to buy expensive presents for their kids or take them somewhere for a cool birthday outing, I had an awesome day. I got a few small presents; we had an afternoon beach outing. I had a wonderful day.

But compared to families in Canada or US or wherever else, who hold awesome birthday parties for their kids and give them lots of presents, my birthday was simple. I’m not trying to vilify any first-world families. I am one of those families, but even more fortunate (traveling around the world; how the heck could anyone say I’m not lucky?)

In past years I’ve had big parties and presents, or money given to me to buy an iPad, etc…  but this year due to our budget, it was more low key. We went out shopping (see below for presents I got), to the beach and then to a unique Cuban restaurant (fab food, FYI). After, we indulged in desserts at a cafe.

Back to the gifts: I got a pair of really cute sandals, a pretty shirt, an awesome trench coat (makes me look like a detective) and a pair of jeggings (leggings+jeans, if you didn’t know). All of these presents ended up costing a whopping thirty buckaroos for my parents. But they made me happy.


I had a simple birthday, but it was a very good one. The Noordhoek beach was beautiful. The playground at the nearby farm village was fun. We had some really awesome food and delicious desserts.

Sometimes even small things can make you happy, like reading a really cool book or going swimming or heading out to a cafe for a hot chocolate. The anticipation of something is often even better than actually doing it. That goes for birthdays and Christmas and Halloween. Scientific studies have even proved that the anticipation of buying something is better than the pleasure we get from actually taking it home with us.

Do you know the phrase, “Money can’t buy us happiness”? You probably do. In some ways that phrase is true, sometimes simplicity and spending time with loved ones is the key to happiness. Other times money CAN buy us happiness. Like going to the spa. It costs money. Or going on vacation. Prepare to feel your wallet (potentially virtual) significantly lighter. Or going out to a restaurant. Hand over the green, please.

Money, whether we like it or not, does make our world go round. There is also the saying, “The best things in life are free.” Depending on who you ask, this saying could be absolutely right or positively wrong.

But maybe we should all learn to live life simpler. Many, many, many Westerners lead busy, pampered lives. Maybe poorer people, families who lead much more difficult, albeit simple lives could teach us something.

That is the end to my big philosophical post (Mom generally does these types of blogs, I know). Anyways, bye until the next post! 🙂 

P.S. Huge thanks to my grandma and grandpa, my GG (stands for great grandma), my aunt and uncle, as well family friend Karen. They all remembered my birthday even though I am halfway around the world and kindly sent me money transfers for my international shopping!   Thank you all so much!

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