“I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness—it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude.” ~Brené Brown
For the longest time I sought after happiness in the wrong place, and I wasn't always leading with my heart to obtain joy.
I used to picture myself living in a big house, with nice things to furnish and fill the fantasy home I dreamed of.
I didn't obtain this large dream home, and I've learned that it's not important, nor is it what I want. I've been fortunate to live in a moderate home with exactly the things I need, and more—a happy, healthy, loving family.
Prior to gaining the wisdom of wanting less, I spent a lot of money on material items, because, one, I thought I deserved it on a good day, because I was “celebrating,” or I worked too hard not to have it; two, I told myself I had to shop on a bad day, because I needed to cheer myself up; three, I shopped out of boredom; or four, I went shopping as a social activity.
After collecting these possessions of “happiness,” I realized my life wasn't totally fulfilling and satisfying.
In fact, I eventually became short-tempered, overwhelmed, and stressed out. I was overwhelmed with the amount of maintenance these material things required, while caring for my family.
My belongings took over my life, and, therefore, I lost myself underneath everything. I started to hate what I was becoming—someone who wasn't consistently happy, and someone that lost track of what mattered most.
My perspective on life changed when my daughter came into my world in 2014. A few months after her arrival, I made a change that has significantly changed me for the better and brought more happiness by
Practicing Gratitude and Living Simply
Being thankful for the essentials—appreciating what I already have—has allowed me to live more simply. It’s also revealed these benefits…
1. You're better able to be present.
Being thankful reminds us of what we have to be grateful for in our current state, and that helps us be more present.
I used to worry more about what I didn't have and seemed to constantly strive for these things. That changed when I figured out how to be thankful for what I have and in the most important place—the present.
There's no better moment than the now. Practice gratitude to enable yourself to be entirely present.
2. It boosts confidence.
When you focus on appreciating what you have, you feel less concerned about what you lack, and that can help boost confidence.
Now that I'm more accepting of myself and my life, I don't compare myself to others and I take pride in paving my own path. It's a great feeling to do things that are best for me and my family, without trying to please the rest of the world.
3. Being thankful means less worry.
Practicing gratitude helps lift away worry because you recognize and appreciate that you have enough.
Knowing that I have the essentials brings me relaxation and eases my mind. I'm also more at peace because I don't add things that aren't valuable to my life in order to avoid the stress they carry.
4. Gratitude improves your sleep.
Recognizing our blessings and worrying less enables us to sleep better.
It's a rare event that I'm up tossing and turning because of stress or worry. If something is keeping you from falling asleep, think of a few thoughts that bring gratitude.
5. It also improves relationships.
Showing gratitude toward others goes a long way and creates better connections.
I'm thankful for my family every day. They're my favorite people and I love being with them. Prior to practicing daily gratitude, it was easiest to take frustrations out on them first. Why? Because I'm most comfortable expressing myself with them, and they put up with me and love me no matter what.
Since I'm so thankful for my family, and because they love me without question, I've improved how I let anger out and make it a point to convey my love for them on a daily basis.
I want to leave this world knowing that I tried to give people the best version of who I am, with the hope that they know how thankful I am for them. Being around inspirational and joyful souls is contagious, and I aspire to be this type of individual.
6. Gratitude leads to generosity, which can be highly rewarding.
Observing thankfulness helps us identify how fortunate we are, which naturally gives us the desire to give.
I personally prefer not to give material things, as I don’t find it as rewarding as other forms of giving. Sure, it's nice to give someone a gift they need, but I believe there is more value in giving time or helping a hand.
Time is priceless, and these days it seems our schedules are packed to the max. People scurry from one place to another, and at the end of the day, they feel stressed and dissatisfied.
I've discovered immense joy in donating my time or helping someone in need. It's gratifying being able to help with something as small as holding a door open or as big as helping feed the hungry.
Discover the benefits of giving by helping a friend, family, or the community.
Practicing gratitude has led me to greater happiness and a better me. The same can happen for you.
Allow yourself to live simply and make life less complex, in as many ways possible; remove unneeded possessions, stop doing unimportant tasks, or say “no, thank you” to an activity that doesn't fit in the schedule.
Start each day with gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for—family, watching spring bloom, your favorite song, or feeling the warm sun on your face. And don’t forget to smile when thinking about these things; it's a quick and easy way to fill your heart with gratitude and live in those extraordinary moments.