As I mentioned in my reasons to love minimalism post, embracing minimalism greatly increased my feelings of contentment and gratitude. The more I decluttered and embraced a life with less, the more gratitude and appreciation I felt for what was left filling my life. Both tangible and intangible things.
As I let go of the excess from my life, I began to appreciate and feel grateful for everything that was left. Over time, I have realized minimalism has been one of the most important ways I’ve increased my feelings of gratitude.
Minimalism helps us decide what is most important to us and what we value most. Then teaches us to get rid of everything that isn’t important or valuable. The more we embrace minimalism, the more our time and space are full of only things that are important and valuable to us.
Removing the excess and the unimportant allows us to acknowledge all the wonderful things filling our life. Both tangible and intangible. And this acknowledgment and appreciation of what we have brings us a deep sense of gratitude.
What does gratitude mean?
Harvard Medical School defines gratitude as “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible”.
Studies show that people who feel more gratitude tend to be happier, more optimistic and feel better about their lives.
As with many things in life, what we actively look for is often what we find. When we focus on the negative things in our lives, we tend to find more negativity in our lives. Whether it’s what is irritating us, all the things going wrong, or simply only seeing the negative side of a situation.
When we actively look for the good things in life, then appreciate the good things around us and feel grateful for them, we tend to find more and more to be grateful for.
Our cycle of consumption leads to discontent
We live in a consumer driven society. Marketers bombard us with ads telling us we need more, better, newer, faster. Advertisers and retailers purposely instill feelings of discontent in us. Then conveniently offer whatever it is they want us to buy as the answer to that discontent.
Our society even often measures success by what we own, more than what we do. We see big houses, nice cars, designer clothes, etc. as signs of success.
But this just leads us further down a path of discontentment. When we are always chasing more, we never feel satisfied with what we already have. Most of us have so much to be grateful for. But our consumer driven society and measures of success make it easy to forget that.
Minimalism changes and shifts our focus
When we start embracing minimalism, our focus shifts and changes. We stop looking to fill our lives with more stuff. And we take a step back from the cycle of consuming, purchasing and wanting more.
Minimalism allows us to see that our lives are already full of more than we need. So much more than we need that it has become a burden on our lives. Our excess stuff is taking our time, space and freedom.
By decluttering and embracing a life with less, we begin to notice and appreciate what we have in our lives. And recognize how little we actually need to have a full, complete life.
Owning Less lets us value and appreciate what we have more
When we choose to own less, we value and appreciate what we own more. Because what we keep is special to us or useful. This results in our feelings of gratitude increasing.
Minimalism teaches us to only keep the things we use regularly or love. When you fill your home with only useful things and items you love, you appreciate and feel gratitude for them. Because they add value to your life.
When you own too much, the excess amount of stuff starts to dilute your sense of gratitude and appreciation. The items you own lose their specialness or importance because you simply have so much stuff. Eventually, the excess stuff even starts to overwhelm and burden you.
Gratitude is at the root of minimalism
Being grateful for what we already have in our lives ends the constant need for more, newer, faster, better stuff. Gratitude allows us to further embrace minimalism by teaching us to be content with and appreciate what we have. We stop looking for more, recognizing what we already have is enough. Gratitude shifts our focus to what we already have, rather than what we don’t have.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
Finding gratitude in minimalism allows us to see that more stuff won’t make us feel happier. If we don’t already feel content, more stuff won’t bring us happiness or contentment. In fact, more stuff only adds more burden to our lives. More stuff means more of our time and energy is taken up simply managing that stuff. Rather than giving us time, space and freedom to enjoy our lives.
If we are always looking towards new things to make us happy, we will never find lasting contentment and happiness. Once we acquire whatever it is we think will make us happy, the contentment we feel doesn’t last long. We get stuck in a cycle of buying more and wanting more, but never feeling satisfied. And we will soon be looking for the next thing to make us feel happy and content again.
Contentment comes from appreciating and being grateful for what we already have and realizing it is enough. By decluttering and embracing minimalism, we only keep what adds value to our lives. Meaning things that are useful or something we love. Which in turn allows us to find a place of enough. A place where we aren’t overwhelmed by stuff and can appreciate the carefully selected things that fill our homes.
Happiness comes from gratitude
When you come from a place of gratitude and contentment, you aren’t searching for happiness in things you can buy. You look for happiness inside yourself. And in your fulfilling relationships, in the ways you spend your time that bring you joy, etc.
True happiness comes from within our own hearts when we notice and appreciate all the good things in our lives. Both tangible and intangible. True happiness comes when we actively look for a reason to feel happy and grateful. Even in the times when that’s hard to do.
“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
Minimalism helps us find gratitude for intangible things in life too
There is so much to be grateful for. Embracing minimalism and removing the distractions from our lives gives us the opportunity to notice, see and appreciate those things. And the more gratitude we feel, the more we find to feel grateful for.
Not only does minimalism create the opportunity for you to feel more gratitude for the tangible things in your life. It also gives you the time, space and freedom to find gratitude for the intangible things in your life too.
Maybe it’s having more time and breathing room in your life to notice moments that bring you joy. Maybe it’s being able to spend quality time with your family and friends, rather than always trying to keep up with the stuff in your home. Or it could be noticing the way your child’s face lights up when they ask you to play and you can say yes because you aren’t distracted or busy.
Minimalism is a gratitude practice & gratitude is a practice in minimalism
Minimalism gives you time, space and freedom. Which gives you the opportunity to notice and appreciate all the things in your life to feel gratitude for. Minimalism removes the excess and distractions from our lives. Giving us the time and space to notice and express our gratitude.
Embracing minimalism opens our eyes and our hearts to immense feelings of gratitude for everything that fills our lives. Both tangible and intangible. In essence, minimalism is a practice in gratitude.
And in turn, noticing and feeling gratitude for our lives, and the people, things and experiences that fill our lives, further encourages us to appreciate what we have. This appreciation and gratitude reminds us we don’t need more stuff to fill our lives.
Gratitude leads us to feel content with what we have, because we value and appreciate what we have. It takes us out of the cycle of wanting more, newer, better, etc. And further encourages us on our path of minimalism. Gratitude teaches us to become content with less. In essence, gratitude is a practice in minimalism.
There are so many benefits of embracing minimalism and choosing to live with less. And studies have shown the benefits of actively choosing gratitude are far reaching too. Knowing that minimalism increases your gratitude, and practicing gratitude can further your minimalist efforts, if you’re looking to simplify, bringing more minimalism and gratitude into your life is a win-win!
Have you experienced more gratitude since embracing minimalism? What connections between gratitude and minimalism have you noticed in your life? Leave a comment below and let me know!