26 Steps to Simplicity: Gratitude

rustic room

Are you grateful or greedy?  Closely connected to our discussion on contentment is the idea of gratitude.  When we are grateful for what we have, it magically becomes enough.  However, when we compare and complain that what we have isn’t good enough, we convince ourselves that more is the answer.  More will change our disposition and make us happy, when in truth, it only leaves us more unsatisfied.  As Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist says,

grateful becoming

Gratitude, I have found, is a discipline.  I train myself to be thankful for what I have, even when it’s not exactly what I want.  I learn to appreciate function (usefulness) rather than form (beauty).  I adapt, discovering the versatility of one item in place of another.  For example, I use my butcher knife to cut my pizzas now, instead of the perfect pizza cutter (by Pampered Chef) which was lost forever in a pizza box over a year ago.  I am thankful for that butcher knife and its ability to stand in for the seemingly indispensable pizza cutter (which, of course, did turn out to be dispensable after all, albeit accidentally).  I re-purpose instead of buying new.  We just took an old bookcase we no longer needed and turned it into a boot shelf in the garage.  Perfect.

By disciplining myself to be grateful for what I have, I see how what I already own both serves me well and helps me to be patient, while I wait for the right time to upgrade or purchase new.  Our things are meant to serve us; we are not meant to be enslaved to them.  But, greediness makes us a slave, often putting us into debt and holding us in a constant state of dissatisfaction.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12

One way I steel myself against greediness is by not shopping.  Shopping is the recreation of choice among Americans, whether you go to Banana Republic, Target, or Goodwill.  It’s just so easy to stop into a store to “look around.”  It’s only when I enter a store that I am suddenly reminded of all the things I “need” when really, I do just fine without them on a daily basis. I wrote more about how to avoid unnecessary spending here.

So, for today, let’s do an exercise in gratitude.  Look around your home with thankful eyes.  Instead of noticing what is missing from your home or not up to par with what you wish you had, find 5-10 everyday things that help you function in your daily life, and express gratitude for them.  Be sure to share one of them in the comments.  Here’s my list (I’ll do six):

  1. My toaster oven.  It is a hideous-looking thing, and my husband keeps telling me to buy a new one, but it works perfectly well, and I am thankful for it when I need to reheat pizza or other small leftovers.
  2. The electric, family sized skillet that I got for $20 brand new at a rummage sale two years ago.  This item has changed my life, cooking for seven.  Sunday brunches and stir fries are a breeze now:)
  3. The matching comforter sets I found at two different rummage sales for $10 each.  They keep my girls warm, and they are pretty and, did I mention, matching? 🙂
  4. The ugly shelving unit in my living room that has found a way to be purposeful in different rooms throughout the years.  It can be disassembled and stored away easily when I don’t need it.  During this season of its life, it has worked well as a display for my Christmas nativity scene and my few plants and home decor items in the living room.  It’s dated, but it’s sturdy, in good condition, and it holds beautiful things, even if it is not beautiful itself.
  5. My Banana Republic skinny jeans. I have had these jeans for 4 1/2 years, and I’ve nearly worn them out, but I love them.  They were the first pair of skinny jeans I ever bought (thanks, Sarah!), and they have been my go-to pair anytime I want to look halfway decent:)  I’m going to miss them when they finally give way (in the knees, hopefully!)
  6. Our basement furniture.  It has gone to hell and back with our children, but it still looks and feels great.  We bought it from my mom, who bought it from my aunt.  It’s good quality furniture (unlike my living room set) that has stood the test of time- and many little, jumping feet.  Lesson here:  Invest in good quality furniture; it’s worth it.

Okay, what’s on your list?  There are statistics out there that state if you have a car and a home, you are in the top 10% of the world’s richest people, or something to that effect.  We have so very much to be grateful for, and a little less wouldn’t hurt us at all, either:)

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

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