Be Challenged, Be Empowered, Blog

Grounded in Gratitude: Belongings vs Experiences.

Happy Thursday, you wonderful people! I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the weekend… I am so grateful for the blizzard that gave me a day off in the middle of this week! Cleaning a foot of snow from my SUV is a small price to pay for a day of work-free hibernation 😉

How has gratitude been a part of your life this week? I hope you have taken time to remind yourself of the moments in life that bring you joy, light you up, and keep you going. I have appreciated focusing on this idea, and continue to find such powerful grounding and perspective in my daily gratitude practice.* Before we bring this chapter about gratitude to a close, let’s talk about one more happy result of being “grounded in gratitude”.

As I mentioned last week, gratitude and discontentment can’t exist in the same moment. And the more you experience and reflect on the things that make you grateful for your life, the quieter that nagging little voice of discontentment will grow. The mind isn’t capable of soaring to the heights of our happiest moments while also feeling unhappy with our current circumstances. Just as reflecting on and reliving this highlight reel can bring us out of the funk of unhappiness and kick complaints to the curb, when we are focus on the great things happening in our lives, we are necessarily not paying attention to the things we don’t have.

I have spent years of my life thinking that the more things I could get for the smallest amount of money the better. Free things were gold, no matter what they were, and there was no such thing as “too much stuff”. I had about 10 pairs of jeans, most of which didn’t fit well. I had graphic tees from every camp, missions trip, and sporting event I had ever been to, and even a bunch I hadn’t. There were shoes and hats and notebooks and hair doodads and handbags. Oh my goodness, the handbags. From clutches to cross-body tote bags, I had dozens of purses. And guess what, I was still always on the search for the perfect handbag, a pair of pants that fit exactly as I wanted, yet another pair of heels that would somehow miraculously allow me to wear them for hours without pain. I shopped and bought and added to the collection and still wasn’t pleased with what I had. I thought I was filling my life with things that would make every day more enjoyable and exciting, but alas, they were just things.

If you’ve been there maybe you can identify with the feeling of looking around at the stash you’ve amassed and feeling unhappy. Trapped. Like your belongings are taking energy from you instead of helping you to enjoy life.

And shouldn’t that be the idea, for our things to actually enable us to live better, more full and rewarding lives? When you think about the great moments in life, what percentage of them are clips of you shopping? If you were told to think about instances in life that make you overwhelmed with joy, would the first thing that comes to mind be a montage of you buying another pair of shoes, a watch, a tool, a new couch, or even a car? If Jimmy Choos, Rolexes, Armani or hey, Levis and Chucks, make your life brighter and fill each day with experiences you’ll remember for years to come, more power to you! Be grateful for them! But if not, what good are they?  I would guess that most of those things don’t even come close to making the list. Even as someone who loves being creative with my wardrobe and finds great joy in the clothing I own, not only do things only factor into about 5% of the highlights of my life, but I can’t even remember what I was wearing in those big moments.

We should look to belongings not to be the beautiful moments in life, but to enable us to experience the beautiful moments.

It is so liberating to be able to see belongings as items that support us in our daily lives, things that can make enjoyable experiences even more amazing, accompaniment to the gorgeous symphonies of life, rather than the focus. I am all for having things that make life more extraordinary! Vacations are more easily remembered when you have a camera to capture the moments. It’s hard to make memories on the slopes if you don’t have ski/boarding gear. Sunrise hikes to breathtaking vistas don’t happen without some specialized clothes and shoes. We need “stuff” to live our lives, enjoy our hobbies, get to those once-in-a-lifetime experiences and make the most of them. But let’s leave them there. As tools to make our lives richer, fuller and more fulfilled. And then be grateful for them! The more grateful you are for the things you have, the less interested you’ll be in the stuff you don’t.

 

 

*If you’re looking for a way to try this yourself, I recommend this one. 

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