With Thanksgiving just past, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s not supposed to be steeped in consumerism. And, for me and my family, it usually isn’t. We relax, eat good food, and enjoy each other’s company.
A few days ago, my son pointed out that the holiday season comes with a rather odd juxtaposition. We’re supposed to be giving thanks for what we have on Thursday morning, but by the night of Thanksgiving, when retailers are opening at 5 p.m. for Black Friday deals, all is forgotten and we’re in “gimme” mode.
While thinking about that, it occurred to me that many of us could be much happier (and richer) by practicing gratitude and learning contentment.
Pay Attention to What You Already Have
Too often, we focus on what we don’t have, or what we wish we had, or what others have. While there’s nothing wrong with considering what matters to you and planning how you can achieve your goals, it’s also important to pay attention to what you already have and be grateful for it.
Learning to recognize what you already have can go a long way toward helping you be content. When you focus on what you have already, and you are grateful for it, you are less likely to obsess over things you don’t have. It’s easier to be happy when you are filled with gratitude for what you have.
I’m grateful that I have a flexible career that provides me with my needs, and I’m also grateful for my son, my family, and support system. As I’ve looked around the last few months, I’ve seen that I have a lot to be grateful for — and much of it has nothing to do with things I can buy.
Gratitude and Contentment Costs Less
One of the great things about gratitude and contentment is that you will spend less on unimportant items as time progresses. When you recognize what you already have, and when you realize where your true values and priorities lie, you are much less likely to spend money trying to keep up with your neighbors. You’re also less likely to feel like you “need” something material to stay happy.
While I still like to spend money, it’s more likely to be on experiences, like traveling to a new place or eating out at a restaurant. These are things I plan for and save for. That way, I don’t go into debt. Practicing gratitude takes my focus off an interest in a bigger TV or more trinkets to clutter up my house or the most expensive new gadget. Instead, it puts my focus on making memories with my son, and on bettering myself as a person and helping in my community.
When you start practicing gratitude and contentment, you might find similar changes in your own feelings and situation. You might find yourself changing the way you spend money, and the way you spend your time. It can lead to a more fulfilling life, and all it takes is a change in attitude.
Are you willing to improve your outlook on life and thus change it for the better?