27 Mar 2018
Want To Get Happier? Start By Letting Go of Things and Getting Grateful
Have you ever wondered, “how might my life be better if I owned fewer possessions and spent more time cultivating the feeling of gratitude for everything I already have?”
It may be hard to imagine this could be true in a culture that tells us almost everywhere we look that ‘more is better’. Even many personal development practices these days talk about our need to get better at ‘creating abundance’ which often translates as having more and better stuff.
But when you think about it, the quest acquiring lots of ‘stuff’, can sometimes cause more suffering than pleasure. Do we really take into consideration the real cost of all these things and the ongoing energetic responsibility they require in their upkeep, maintenance, repair, insurance etc.
Do we factor in the times we have traded our health, our relationships, our passions and our freedom to own a particular ‘thing’.
Even in small ways during the day we can get angry and frustrated by things that, in the end, don’t really matter? We can find ourselves in a bad mood because our car is out of petrol again, the amount of things that to get done on our errand list or because someone washed your favourite top and shrunk it.
So what would happen if you stopped for a minute and take a look around and focused on all the things in life you could be grateful for, but may have been taking for granted? Like having someone who loves you (whether that is your cat, friends or a partner), having food on the table and place to live, being in good health, having the freedom of speech on how you express views – these are all things that someone in the world is at this moment wishing and praying for.
As a result of this mindful practice you may find you start feeling very happy about your life just as it is in this present moment!
The feeling of Gratitude is a key that opens the door to happiness.
The great secret is that it is never the ‘thing’ that makes you feel good, it’s actually your thoughts about that thing that makes you feel good! So what would happen if you disconnected your need for a ‘thing’ to create happy feelings? Modern minimalism asks us to do that by consciously choosing to have less ‘things’ to make room for concentrating on potentially more fulfilling aspects of life – relationships, adventures, passion projects, freedom to relax and express creativity.
Minimalism is so much more than just living with less.
Modern minimalism is so much more than denying yourself things you love and forcing yourself to live with just 3 pairs of shoes and an empty apartment. Minimalism is a lifestyle that encourages people question what things really add value to their lives. Like gratitude it is a a mindfulness practice that ask us to consciously choose quality over quantity.
Minimalism is the physical manifestation of a grateful mind
If you think about it, if you were really throughly grateful for all you have right now, you would not feel driven to go out an get more.
6 Way Gratitude and Minimalism can improve your life:
- You’ll start to enjoy life more. When you focus on what you’re thankful for and what you have, you’ll need less stuff and enjoy life’s moments more.
- You’ll love yourself more. When you surround yourself with what matters, you’ll [re]define values, you will start feeling grateful for all that you have and you’ll begin to accept yourself for who you are, as you are, right now. Self-love isn’t selfish.
- It will improve your relationships. When you start taking the people in your life for granted less, your focus will shift. You will become more thankful for them, your judgments and expectations will fall away and you’ll appreciate them more. As your appreciation of those around you increases, you will find how they respond to you will also change for the better.
- You’ll live more in the present. Practicing gratitude allows you to take the time to live in the moment of ‘what is’ and less in the regrets of past or worries of the future. By focusing on the the good that is in the ‘now’, you get to acknowledge the wonderful things in life. By practicing minimalism you are making a conscious decision to ensure that the things in your life bring joy.
- It will reduce your stress. When you shift the focus from your problems to what’s working for you, your stress will decrease – which means your overall health will increase!
- You’ll be happier in general. Creating an attitude of gratitude will decrease your feelings of dissatisfaction and increase your sense of fulfilment. Overall these positive feelings will have you becoming a happier, more optimistic person in general.
How to start practicing Minimalism
Minimalism is a search for happiness – not through things – but through life itself. This leaves it up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in your life. Awareness is key.
It’s simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life.It’s living without an obsession for material things or with filling your time with doing everything and doing too much.
What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff — the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities — that don’t add value to your life. It’s using simple tools, such as simplifying your wardrobe, carrying less and living lightly.
While starting to simplify may seem painful, it is easier than it looks.
A low risk way to start is by doing the 333 Fashion Challenge – 33 pieces of clothing for 3 months. Think of it as creating your own ‘Capsule Collection’ for the season – and everything else gets packed away (so you don’t have to actually give anything away).
You can be a little bit flexible on the exact amount of items. The main point isn’t to restrict yourself, but to start becoming more mindful of what your really need. You would be surprised by what you don’t miss, by what you do and by the mindset transformation that will occur.
How to start practicing Gratitude
Every morning when you wake write at least one thing you are grateful for on a slip of paper and put in a gratitude jar or in your journal. It is okay if it isn’t deep, it just has to be pure – like I am grateful for my cat. It’s such a simple act, but it can really put you in such a positive mindset.
Do these everyday, so that when you’re having a bad day or going through a rough patch in life, reading through these slips of paper or your journal can give you the perspective you need.
You can also start to add in a simple gratitude mediation practice.
Starting out small and as slowly as you need is the key. The first step, is to begin. Happiness is only a grateful thought away, I promise you!