I often hear myself telling my kids to be grateful for what they have. Whether they are sulking because the after school snack is yogurt instead of a cookie, or they just noticed their friend has a new blue bike with lights on the wheels and they are still riding the white one from last year that has never had lights at all. And can we please get a new one? The answer is “No. Be grateful for what you have!” I think I’m cultivating gratitude.And then as the adult when I see the new, shiny, brass side table or gorgeous, camel leather clogs and can I please get them? Often I think why not? It will be perfect in the living room. I’ve really needed some nude-colored shoes to wear to church.
How often do I tell myself “No. Be grateful for what you have!”?
I’ve noticed I do a lot more these last few weeks. Because saying “yes, sure, okay” to new stuff is off the table as our family experiments with enjoying the more than enough stuff we already own. Instead I find myself simply feeling grateful of what I have.
I sit down in my comfortable side chairs and think “Whew! I’m so happy that I have these. I love them.”
I pull on my worn canvas all-stars and think “These are the best shoes, and I’ll bet they last me the rest of the year no problem. Even longer if I can find those new shoe laces I know I bought for them a few months ago.”
I toss aside a throw pillow from any of the couches or chairs and think “I definitely have enough pillows and I love that they double as floor cushions when we play games and foot stools when we watch movies.”
Because we already decided that our answer to the question of buying more this year would be no, it has been amazing to see how we are aware and appreciative of the abundance that we have! Our perspective has been shifted dramatically from peering over the fence to see those greener pastures, to focus on mowing, fertilizing, and loving the grass that we have been blessed with.
Like last week, I didn’t face any particular challenges by not buying stuff. In fact, I am deliberately avoiding going into stores for these first few weeks to break the habit of wandering with wide eyes. I know I don’t need any more stuff, so I don’t need to see it all.
I only went into one store, and it was Costco for groceries. For the first time in my whole life I walked away with nothing but food in my basket. No darling beach towels that just hit the warehouse floor, no new books or darling inexpensive pjs for the kids, no socks. I don’t know if I’ve ever left Costco without buying socks. Ha!
It was energy-building to not have to make any type of decision regarding those purchases. We already decided no, so I didn’t even spend the time to look. I found the snacks and groceries we needed and came home to put things away. Then we spent the eventing playing games with the kids and some friends. I felt grateful.
Less Means More
You know when people experience unexpected loss, whether of family or jobs or opportunities, often they feel a deep sense of gratitude for what remains. Everything feels more meaningful and they wonder how they overlooked it all before.
I feel like we’ve hit on some of that gratitude without the loss. Just the absence of more. In knowing there will not be new clothes or furniture or toys in our life this year everything that remains– all the things that we have already had– suddenly feel so much more valuable and special. We are appreciating each item that brings us joy, and feeling able to readily let go of the things that aren’t.
Less can be more. And we are grateful for what we have.