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Showing posts from 2022

The 2022 Maximum Gratitude Minimal Stuff Recap

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Thank you, dear readers, for giving me so much appreciation and encouragement.  I've begun my 5th year of blogging, and I get more enjoyment from it each year!  Whether you've been with me from the beginning or arrived just now, I'm glad you're here. Thank you for sharing Maximum Gratitude with your family and friends, on social media, and with links from your own websites.  This website exists because of your support, and I'm grateful for all of it. To those of you who go the extra mile and purchase my books – you're my favorites .  You're who I think of most when I sit down to write. Lots of good news Subscribers have grown by 75% since last January, which makes me happy.  This is the 106th post I've written this year, and a dozen of those posts were featured on Joshua Becker's site No Sidebar.com , including How a Naked Table Benefits My Life Every Day .  I've also become a regular guest author on The Simplify Daily.com , and the huge financi

The 12 Days After Christmas: A Scavenger Hunt

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In the days after Christmas, your house may be feeling a little stuffy and scruffy.  Pine needles fill the carpet, new toys and other gifts fill shelves and cupboards, and some of your holiday decorations strike you as messy rather than merry. Why not have a family scavenger hunt for things you can declutter?  Start the New Year lighter and have some fun too. How to play Did you realize that the gifts in the traditional song "The 12 Days of Christmas" add up to 78 ?  Now, some of those gifts are useful (especially if you're a farmer) – the pear tree, hens, geese, milk cows, and of course those five golden rings!  You'd have to feed and house all of the people (maids, lords, ladies).  And by the end it's a literal parade of pipers and drummers accompanying dancers and leapers.  What a celebration! To find room for all of your new gifts, here's the list of things to remove: 1     piece of furniture that simply gathers clutter and dust 2     unused kitchen appli

Born on a New Day

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Why do you celebrate the holidays?  Is it because: you love the idea of fun and festivity with family and friends? you like to create an eye-catching table and a delicious feast for guests? you want to counteract cold, dark weather with lights and sparkle? you enjoy making, shopping for, giving, and receiving presents? you feel a connection to the natural world and the beauties of winter? you long for an atmosphere of kindness and goodwill? you're awed and humbled by God's care for and intervention in our world? you're inspired to worship Jesus because of his humility and sacrifice?  There are probably other reasons I haven't thought of. What's the point? The holidays are supposed to mean something .  They should be more than a date on the calendar, more than just another day spent in front of a screen, and more than a retailer's dream come true. Whatever way you celebrate, if it gets you outside of yourself and the things that usually occupy your time and your

If Your Holiday Season Seems to Be Racing By, Slow Down

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Do you find yourself rushing around even more than usual at this time of year?  You've got presents to buy, cookies to bake, parties to plan, and events to attend.  There are cards to mail, decorations to display, all the tasks on your regular to-do list, and kids to soothe and entertain.  Plus traffic! It doesn't sound like peace on earth. Press pause. I loved the Christmas season as a child, with so much to anticipate and enjoy, but that's because I didn't have to "produce" the holiday for anyone.  As an adult, I find that every year it flies by more quickly, and before I've really savored it, it's over.  What a letdown. You're probably on the holiday production team, so be sure to take time to pause . Pause before you say yes to one more thing. Pause before you add anything else to your shopping cart. Pause before getting upset when something upsets your plans. Pause for your own peace of mind. When you feel the holiday momentum sweeping you alo

There's Still Time to Create a Simple, Non-Consumer Christmas

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Christmas can be a season of connection, kindness, and simplicity.  Or it can be a time of stress, debt, and the frenzied pursuit of more.   You get to choose. The advantages of buying less 2022 has been a Buy Nothing Year for me.  I realized that I had enough – more than enough, actually, because I still decluttered a few things.   Our culture tells us the opposite.  The drumbeat of messages saying we need something more than what we already have is relentless .  And that skews our vision, making it harder to see how blessed we really are.  When you're schooled to think that you're lacking, it becomes difficult to appreciate much of anything. It's been refreshing for me to stick with buying what we need.  I'll admit to being tempted now and then by cute displays and clever marketing, but my "rules" helped me remember that I didn't want to bring anything into my home that I didn't truly need.  I like my home to be fresh and attractive, but a spot of c

Here are Proven Ways to Cope With Christmas When You're Feeling Blue

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Christmas is a season for joy and connection.  But what happens when the lights and bustle make you feel sad and lonely – excluded from the joy and connections that others are making? Maybe you're at home wondering, "Where are my party invitations?  Why does everyone else have someone to decorate the tree or make cookies with?  Why don't I have a hand to hold?" We're all in this together. That ache – that wish for connection – is what makes you exactly like everyone else.  All of us want to connect, even the introverts among us, even the curmudgeons.  (Just imagine how lonely Scrooge was, sipping gruel in his cold dark house on Christmas Eve.)  And all of us want to be happy, sometimes to the point that we refuse to feel sad, even when it makes sense. If you've recently lost your job, are going through a breakup, have been ill, or are simply feeling overwhelmed by the problems and complexities of the modern world, sorrow is actually a sane response.  It'

How to Be Rich... Even If You Don't Have Much Money

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I'm not rich.  You probably aren't either.  But did you know that the vast majority of millionaires don't think they're rich?  Studies show that only 13% of affluent Americans classify themselves as wealthy. Apparently, you're only as rich as you feel , and for many people, having any sort of financial constraint indicates that they don't have enough.  There's also that tendency we all share to compare our assets with what others have, and that makes most of us feel that we're lacking. So the rich are different.  They have more assets, but they may feel less secure and more discontented . A rich mindset Maybe we should aspire to be rich regardless of how much money we have.  As long as we're above the level of poverty, we can have a life that is full and valuable no matter how much cash we have to spend or invest. More of us need to measure happiness by something other than the number of our possessions.  It's actually the person who craves mo

One Simple Choice to Reduce Waste This Holiday and Forever

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Plastic is everywhere. The world is producing 380 million tons of plastic every year, and 50% of that is for single-use purposes – useful for a minute, part of the environment for centuries . Plastic is valuable in medical supplies (including my eyeglasses!), auto parts, and machinery.  But it's also woven into our clothing, bedding, rugs, and furniture.  It's ubiquitous in toys, stuffed animals, disposable diapers, and feminine care.  We eat off it, drink from it, wrap food in it, and give it to our babies to chew on. I hope this bothers you as much as it does me.  But what are we doing about it? Isn't zero waste just too hard? For some people, the term "zero waste" is as scary as "minimalist."  Just as some think that minimalists get rid of almost everything they own, live in a white room with a mattress on the floor and a 10-item wardrobe, and shun all books, pictures, hobbies, and comfort , others believe a zero waste lifestyle is limiting, labor-in

The Best Holiday Gift List I've Seen This Year

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It's a common feature in magazines and on websites:  The Holiday Gift List.  Usually filled with over-priced items that no one really needs, I've always found these suggestions pretty useless.  It's just another form of advertising, as far as I'm concerned.  And who wants to add to the total of unwanted gifts received every holiday season? Better choices However, I recently found some better recommendations for the holiday, and I want to share them with you.  They come from the World Vision gift catalog.   World Vision  is a global Christian humanitarian organization that has been partnering with children, families, and communities ( of any faith or none ) for over 70 years.  Their programs include health, education, hunger and water issues, disaster relief, child protection, gender equality, and more. Each of these gifts equips children and families to change their own lives for a better future.  They're useful, provide decent jobs, and do more than enrich a retail

This Holiday, Make a Yes List That Supports What You Value Most

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Have you ever worked so hard to generate holiday magic that you made it impossible to feel any magic?  When we say yes to everything, we court exhaustion and overwhelm.  We turn the season into a grueling marathon, which defeats every reason we gave ourselves for doing so much. We should probably say no to plenty of things during the holidays, just to save our sanity.  But then how do we make them special?  Just saying no seems so dull. Saying yes with thoughtfulness and intention is a positive way to approach any task or project because it sets your priorities and helps you manage your expectations.  Too many expectations and you feel stress and failure if you aren't able to achieve them, and too few (or zero) expectations and you feel unmotivated and run the risk of missing out on positive experiences. So consider these possibilities for saying yes this holiday season, and craft a Christmas that is less harried and more happy. 6 items that belong on your holiday yes list 1.  Say

How to Declutter Christmas Decorations

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It's time to get out all your boxes of ornaments and the artificial tree (or trees) you store every year.  Do you set aside an entire day, or even more, to get all your decorations up?  Are you risking your neck to hang Christmas lights?  If you've been accumulating holiday d├ęcor for years (or decades), you probably have almost enough stuff to set up shop. Now maybe decorating for the holidays is one of your favorite events of the season.  Maybe you gather family or friends, put out some snacks, play suitable music, and have a ball filling every nook and cranny with mementos of the season.  If it's a tradition you crave each year, and it brings you and your companions great joy, go for it!  Minimalism, after all, is about intentionally making space and time for what is most important to you. Related article:  How Minimalism Makes Room for Joy Why you might be ready for less But maybe it's become more of a chore than a joy, or maybe you're just tired of storing a do