Every Day Looks Better When You Focus on Gratitude
My husband and I live in an apartment, which means I don't have quartz countertops or shiplap on my walls. My kitchen appliances are white, not stainless steel, and I'm never going to have hardwood floors. I guess that means I'm out-of-date and off-trend, so I should hate my house and commence complaining about it regularly. In fact, we should probably just move!
Here's what Henry David Thoreau has to say about that in his classic, Walden: "I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes."
Hmmm. So maybe it's me that needs to be renewed, not my surroundings. I need eyes of gratitude to see how much I really have, instead of worrying about what I don't.
I get up in the morning and walk into my bathroom. I can turn the faucet in the shower and not only get clean water immediately, day or night, but I can get HOT water. Women all over the world walk long distances to get a bucket of water, and if they want it hot they have to also gather fuel and heat it. I have a faucet at the bathroom sink and in the kitchen too. In fact, even the water in the toilet has gone through the treatment plant, so I'm using clean drinking water to flush!
Good health and medications
I open the bathroom cabinet, and besides products like facial cleanser, deodorant, body lotion, toothpaste, and dental floss, there aren't a lot of medicines. Jon's thyroid, my allergy pills, some ibuprofen for occasional aches and pains. A basket in the hall closet has adhesive bandages, antibiotic cream, anti-itch cream (for mosquito bites), and a bottle of Pepto-Bismol (can't remember the last time I used it). We have vitamins in the kitchen.
At this point in time, we don't need any other medications. Thank God for our health! Over seven million people in the U.S. take insulin, and something like ten times that many take medications for hypertension. Sadly, too many people need medications for awful conditions like cancer, MS, COPD, and others.
Even worse, billions of people don't even have access to medicines when they need them.
According to the USDA's latest Household Food Insecurity report, more than 38 million people in the U.S. experienced hunger in 2020. More millions around the world face this situation every day.
Family and friends
Every morning and every evening I get to be with my husband. He'll be off to work soon, but I plan to call our daughter later, and I'm going to see our son on the weekend for a massage (he's a massage therapist). I got a newsy email from a dear friend who lives in Chicago, and I need to reply. My elderly uncle who lives in Berlin called me just last week to chat for a few minutes.
I don't have to be alone unless I wish it. (And did I mention MASSAGE?!)
- Our grandson gets a good education for free at the school near his home. So many families around the world would love to be able to provide their children with education.
- I stream six centuries' worth of classical music on my computer for free without commercials. We do choose to support our wonderful public radio station, but I could still listen even if we didn't.
- Oh yeah, I have a computer with internet access to whatever interests me. Wi-Fi isn't free (oh wait – sometimes it is), but it's pretty affordable.
As I sip some delicious legal stimulant (Earl Grey tea), I realize once again how blessed I am. Why should I not be free of the need to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to my house, my clothes, my car, my vacations, or whatever it is that the Joneses (corporations and marketers) are trying to get me to chase after?
For more contentment, watch your focus.
Author Glennon Doyle shares an interesting thought: Our entire economy seems based on distracting us from our blessings. She writes,
Producers of stuff NEED to find 10,000 ways to make us feel "less than" about our clothes, kitchens, and selves so that we will keep buying more. So maybe freeing ourselves just a little from the Tyranny of Trend is the issue – because we certainly aren't going to get much world changing done if we spend all of our time and money on wardrobe and kitchen changing.
The Tyranny of Trend will also keep us forever dissatisfied. We'll have a sort of "honeymoon" with our new clothes or home décor, which will be over once the newer styles are available.
Nope. We need to focus on all the wonderful things we already have. We need to take care of them and be grateful for them so we can be happier and more contented every day. That's my strategy, anyway.
Related article: Why I'm Turning Off HGTV
Updated June 2023