Practicing Gratitude

This is a guest post by Sara Rauch from Life More Lived.

Simplicity comes naturally to me now, but that wasn’t always the case. There was a time when I never gave simplicity a thought. It never occurred to me that simplicity, or simple living, or minimalism, was even an option, never mind a path to true happiness.

All that changed when I picked up a copy of The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living by Janet Luhrs. That tome, sitting unassumingly on the library shelf, jumped out and knocked me over. In all seriousness, checking that book out of the library changed my life.

I read it, and I looked around at my day-to-day, and I said to myself: It’s time for me to embrace what truly matters. And I’ll do that by simplifying.

In the beginning, I decluttered a lot. I read minimalism blogs for inspiration. I daydreamed a lot: about newness and open space and travel, about clean lines and white walls and small suitcases. As time moved on, I daydreamed less and did more—our home felt peaceful and calm, we sold both our non-gas-efficient cars and bought one high MPG (used) model, I uncovered a surge in my creative life and began writing a novel. We also established a successful savings plan and traveled to visit friends and spend time with family.

Even before I began my journey into simplicity, I had much to be thankful for. These days, I practice gratitude daily: a supportive partner, 4 healthy cats, an incredible community, a nice home, a challenging and interesting job, access to fresh food daily, culture and country always at my fingertips. My life, without even trying, is amazing. (Okay, that statement is only partially true. The true part is that it’s amazing. The not-always-true part is the without even trying.)

The truth is, I had to start paying attention before I could truly see what I had to be grateful for. Gratitude, like simplicity, will come naturally, but it takes time—because it’s a practice. Everything worth doing is a practice: writing, yoga, meditation, relationships, acceptance, an uncluttered life, I might even add love to the list. Gratitude is one of the most profound practices I’ve come across.

The other truth is, gratitude has to be practiced even when you feel like there is nothing to put on the list. Nobody’s life is all roses all the time. When life gets tough, that’s when you really need to practice. In the wake of death, global poverty, oil spills, and all the other tragedies and uncertainties of life, taking the time (even a minute) to tally the simple pleasures, to look around and be thankful, has shifted my perspective from one of powerlessness to one of possibility.

Gratitude is a profound practice, and a wise one. What are you grateful for? Go ahead, make a list (and add it to The Thanksgiving Project of course). Take that list out into the world, pull it out daily—when you’re blissful and when you’re having a downright awful day. Practice gratitude in each moment. This is simplicity at its finest.

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Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” and “Balancing Priorities and Prioritizing Balance”. Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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2 Responses to Practicing Gratitude

  1. Pingback: Writings around the Web « Life More Lived

  2. This is great food for thought. Thanks Sara.

    Today I’m grateful for the option to work from home where I was able to start some mouth watering vegetable chili on this cold, rainy day in Columbus Ohio.

    Because I’m home today, I’m able to enjoy the homey aroma that lingers in the air.

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