Radical Gratitude and the Pursuit of Minimalism

I make regular attempts to maintain a daily Gratitude Practice. It is, reportedly, life-enhancing and a real mood-lifter, which, yay! And I really have so much to be grateful for and it’s good to regularly remind myself of that. So I start Gratitude Journals or scrawl notes in my regular journals. And then I wander off. Because somehow the magic isn’t happening for me. And it’s really weird to be pissed off at your Gratitude Practice.

And then one day, the thought occurred: maybe it’s not enough to just keep a Gratitude Journal, although that is an excellent first step. Getting in the habit of noticing the things big and small that make you feel grateful so you can write them down later is a really good practice to add to your day.

And taking a few moments as you journal to breathe and be in that place of gratitude is an excellent second step and will shift a lot of energy in your life.

But if it stops there, I think you’re missing something. I was certainly missing something.

I think, for your Gratitude Practice to be complete, you have to actually show your gratitude.

Otherwise you’re like the loving spouse who spends night after night on the couch, binging on Netflix while the empties pile up around them. They may, indeed, feel deep love and affection, but how is their partner supposed to know if they never demonstrate it?

So when I say I’m grateful for my health, well, that’s lovely. But if I’m just feeling gratitude while shoving Cheesy Wotsits in my mouth, and remaining immobile, that health is going to escape me.

Eat an apple. Go for a walk. Do some yoga. All while feeling grateful for the good health that you do have.

Most of us know we should be grateful to have a roof over our heads, but how well do we actually care for the space we live in? We spend hours on Pinterest, envying other people’s spaces and dreaming of the day “someday” when we’ll be able to afford a decent couch rather than the piece of crap we’re currently sat on and, hopefully a gorgeous living room to put it in, instead of where we are now. And gratitude turns into disgruntlement.

Instead of rushing through the weekly cleaning so we can get to our pinning and dreaming, how would our outlook change if we took our time, carefully cleaning and polishing surfaces, tidying things away and making our space something we could truly enjoy?

This is not a call for perfection, or yet another set of impossible standards that we’ll all fail to live up to. Just a call to love what we actually have, to really see it and touch it and let it shine just for you.

Instead of feeling bad about our homes and refusing to have anyone over, what if we invited people in, shared it with them just as it is now in a spirit of friendliness and gratitude?

I think that if we do these things, we’ll be healthier and happier. Our friendships will flourish, especially as we start lavishing the same care on them as we do on our health and our stuff. We’ll even find we have ever-more to be grateful for.

I also think this is a slow, contemplative path to minimalism, if you want to take it (and I do realize that minimalism is not for everyone).

Because all this care, attention and gratitude takes time and energy. Time and energy that we’ll, bit by bit, only be willing to give to the truly important parts of our lives, the Yay’s and not the Ugh’s.

We won’t want to lavish care on our collection of orphaned socks, duplicate kitchen utensils and anything else we don’t love, so we can let them fall away, remaining grateful for the socks we actually do wear and the utensils we really use.

Slowly, mindfully, we’ll find ourselves surrounded by our essentials and filled with gratitude for them.

What do you think? Has a Gratitude Journal worked for you? Or would a more hands-on approach be more helpful?

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2 Responses to Radical Gratitude and the Pursuit of Minimalism

  1. Val says:

    I do gratitude photos. Concentrating on beauty long enough to snap a well laid out photo means examining the beauty, admiring it, getting spirit-giddy over the gloriousness. It can turn any kind of day positive.

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