Since starting my journey toward a life of simplicity, less clutter and more intention, it’s opened the door to a whole new way of thinking. You see, I used to take a lot of things for granted. As most of us do at some point in our lives, I became comfortable with life. I believed life was a natural succession of climbing ladders and accumulating things until somehow, jubilant happiness would be on the other side.
My younger self didn’t fully understand what gratitude was. Things just came into my life and went back out again. Thanks to credit cards I could buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.
I merely existed and focused, for the most part, on what I didn’t have in my life. Oh, the misgivings of youth!
I’m happy to say I’ve mended my ways and now focus wholeheartedly on abundance. I’m thankful for the little things, and I no longer take what’s right in front of me for granted.
The grace of gratitude
In today’s turbulent times, and in the face of all the negativity and destruction going on, it can be hard to give gratitude grace. I’m aware of it all, and the impact constant turmoil and negativity can have on life. I’ve faced it in my life (more than I’d like over the past eight years) and I see it in the faces of people that come into the coffee shop where I work part-time as a barista.
The struggle is real in so many lives.
I’m a highly sensitive person, so if I let it, the world can affect me tremendously. I struggle with the impact humans are having on this beautiful planet, I struggle with the hurt we cause to innocent children, and yes, I even struggle with my minimalism journey and the quest to live simpler and with purpose.
And yet, with all that craziness in the world, by giving grace to gratitude, you bring miracles front and centre. By honouring gratitude, you show yourself and others that no matter what struggle appears in your path, you are willing to see the miracles and love in spite of all the rest.
Being grateful is a choice.
Yes, sometimes it’s hard. I get it. It’s yet another thing you have to work on.
But gratitude is worth working on. And so, at this stressful time of year, I made a list of what I’m thankful for.
What I’m thankful for
For years, I didn’t understand gratitude. When you’re young and privileged, you think that life is something that happens to you. You’re unaware that you are the creator of your life. Over the years, it’s taken time and effort on my part to become more grateful for what I have.
With time and grace, I’ve become disciplined in my practice and attitude of gratitude. The most important lesson I’ve learned is also to be grateful for the things you don’t like. My previous job was a perfect example. I was stressed out to the max, burnt out and loathed what I did. But every day, and with purpose, I told myself I was grateful for that job.
In a world where losing your job, pain, and suffering are on the rise, being grateful for whatever you do have allows grace into your life. And instead of perpetuating the cycle of pain, anger, and suffering, you open the door to small miracles in its place.
Here’s my challenge to you: This week, when you’re overwhelmed with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, take a moment to be grateful for what you already have. You may be surprised to find out that all those sales fade away. You’ll realize you already have everything you need.
Just because something is on sale is not a reason to own that something.
If you have some extra time, I challenge you to create a gratitude list.
Here’s my list:
I am thankful for my health.
I am thankful for a roof over my head.
I am thankful for a warm, cozy bed to sleep in each night.
I am thankful for a fully functioning car to get me to and from my part-time job. (My car is on the verge of 8 years old and I can’t afford a new-ish/new to me car.)
I am thankful for my creativity.
I am thankful for my ability to change.
I am thankful for the understanding and supportive family and friends in my life. Without which, I’d have lost my mind a long time ago.
I’m thankful I’m able to travel and experience this beautiful world of ours.
I’m thankful for wholesome, healthy food I have access to each day.
I’m thankful I can do meaningful work that matters.
3 Ways to be more thankful
Go back to the basics.
If you look at my list above, you’ll notice that a lot of what’s on there is rather basic. Most of it people consider a right or expect to have that as a minimum in our North American lives. But the truth of it is this: any of it can be stripped away at any moment.
Living a simpler life has also helped me focus on those basics. It’s helped me realize it’s all I need, and the rest is just a bonus. Like beautiful clothes – they’re a bonus. And expensive scented candles, they’re a luxury.
Focus on abundance, not lack.
I can’t tell you how much this change in focus has affected my life and finances. I used to be an emotional spender and focused on all the things I didn’t have. So what happened? Yep, you guessed it — I tried to buy all.the.things. And what did I get for it? Lots and lots of debt.
By focusing on abundance instead of lack, I was able to stop the cycle of accumulating more. I am now very intentional with purchases and what comes into my life. I loathe clutter. It stresses me out. So when I’m tempted by social media, or the latest celeb testimonial or blogger trend, I’m able to stop myself by focusing on what I do have.
I’ll usually ask myself, do I need another one of X item? And the answer is usually no.
Tell one person who is dear to you that you’re grateful for them.
The first time I did this, I had no idea the impact it would have on the other person. I’m blessed with beautiful and understanding parents. They’ve been there for my successes and my many struggles. They’ve looked on without judgement or anger. They’ve been the most generous people in my life. So one day, without any fear, and with an abundance of sincerity, I told them exactly how I felt. It included not only my gratitude for them but my disappointment in myself and my failures. Without meaning to, I made them cry. Happy tears of course. I showed them in a meaningful way that they were appreciated and loved.
By being honest and telling someone close to you how much they’re appreciated, you are showing them your gratitude. You’re creating that human connection we all crave.
So this week when you’re faced with all the temptations to shop, buy more, be more, and essentially forget what’s in front of you, PAUSE, and take a moment to be thankful for what is right there in front of you. You won’t regret it. Your sanity and wallet will thank you.