The light bulb in my kitchen burnt out a few weeks ago. Last week, the bulb in my bathroom burnt out, too.

As a result it’s been pitch black in my bathroom and not much better in the kitchen.

I’ve looked around for a new bulb, though it can be tricky to find specific items like that in a European downtown area. In the US you would just head to any grocery store or pharmacy and they’d be likely to have a replacement bulb, but in the States we’re all about the on-stop-shop. Most other countries have their food in one place, their housewares in another, their hardware in another, and so on. I assumed there would be some kind of electronics or hardware store within walking distance, but after a few days of keeping my eyes open for something that fit the bill, I came up short.

A full week has passed and I’ve made it work. I turn on a light in an adjacent room when cooking, and when I need to use the bathroom, I open up the fridge, which is close to the bathroom door and does a decent job of lighting my way to the shower or toilet. I am a classy person.

And then yesterday — eureka! — I found a small bulb tucked into a corner of the tiny camping supplies section of a newly-discovered grocery store near my flat. I walked home, fitted it into the socket at the end of a somewhat-precariously-dangling wire fixture in the bathroom, and suddenly the room was flooded with pure, sweet, full-bodied light. The bathroom — and my smile — lit up brighter than either had in a week.

It’s a little thing, replacing a light bulb. But it can be huge when you’ve reset your expectations — in this case, to showering in the dark — resulting in a small solution that makes a huge impact.

This is part of why I don’t live in fancy apartments all the time, and why I don’t eat out at high-end restaurants for every meal. If I get accustomed to the best, anything less than ideal will be disappointing.

If I keep my standards balanced in the middle — acclimating myself sometimes to the best and sometimes to the not-so-best available — then those four-star restaurants and fancy flats will still have the power to surprise me and light up my smile with their wonderfulness.

Stay in a dark room long enough and eventually you’ll be able to see, and you’ll still appreciate the light when it’s turned on periodically.

Spend your entire life in a fully-lit room and the darkness will be terrifying and unfamiliar and seem like the worst thing that could possibly happen.

Enjoying my work? It's funded by people like you! Consider buying one of my books or contributing a dollar. Thanks so much — I appreciate your support!