Frugal Living: Attitude of Gratitude

by Miranda Marquit · 3 comments

One of the issues that many people have with frugal living is the idea of denying yourself. In a lot of cases, it can seem like frugal living is about telling yourself “no” all the time and sacrificing. Of course, if all you focus on is the sacrifice efforts, and if all you think about is what you’re not getting, you will be miserable and frugality will seem like a chore. One of the keys to frugal living is cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

Focus on What You Have

One of the problems with our consumer culture is that we think about what we can have. And we think about it a lot. We always want more. The problem with always wanting more is that there is always more to have. It’s hard to be satisfied when you constantly worry about have more of something, or getting a bigger (and presumably better) model. In the end, you are unhappy because no matter how much you have, it is never enough.

Change your focus, though, and you have a better chance of feeling better about your situation. This attitude shift requires that you stop focusing on what you don’t have, and contemplate what you have. It also requires that you express gratitude for what you already have. Focus on the things that you have — from your favorite book to the nearby park to your lovely family.

Recognizing what you already have, and recognizing that you are grateful to have it, are essential to successful and happy frugal living. Gratitude helps move your attention from things outside yourself to items inside yourself. Instead of looking beyond what you have, gratitude can help you see what you have in a new light.

Cultivating Gratitude

Of course, gratitude is not something that develops spontaneously. If you have spent a great deal of time being resentful about your financial situation, then it can be even more difficult to cultivate gratitude. However, if you keep at it, it is possible for you to develop a thankfulness that can add joy to your life, and make frugality a blessing — not a burden.

Here are some things you can do to help you cultivate the quality of gratitude:

  1. Keep a list of things you are thankful for: One of the easiest ways to begin recognizing what you already have is to make a list. Think of things you are grateful for, and make a list. Include things like your health, the picture your child drew for you, your favorite chair, your morning cup of coffee. Turn the list into a journal. Add two or three things to the list each day. Peruse it often to remind yourself of all the things that you have.
  2. Avoid dwelling on those who appear to have more: Try to avoid comparing your car to someone else’s new car. This goes for other material possessions. Try to focus more on improving yourself in non-material ways, and try to stop comparing what you have to what others have. This can be difficult in a society that equates money with status and “worth.” But you can work at it, and learn to value a simpler life.
  3. Realize that you are more fortunate than others: Recognize that, compared to many others, you are fortunate. Most of the rest of the world gets by on less than $5 a day. Even in your own community there are probably people less fortunate. Don’t let that puff you up, though. Donate to the less fortunate, and volunteer your time, and you’ll begin to feel more grateful for what you have.
  4. Catch the direction of your thoughts: As you go through the above exercises, pay attention when your thoughts start to wander down the paths of envy and dissatisfaction. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, consciously make an effort to find something positive to think about.

This post was included in the Festival of Frugality

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

SimsplyRuth September 21, 2010 at 3:13 am

I became disabled in late 2000. Since then my income has been SSI with an ‘extra’ $20.00 of S/S. Gratitude? Oh yes! Despite what was “Suicidal Acute Clinical Depression” until Dec 2006 and now is just “Acute Clinical Depression” I have found moments of true Joy in each day – and so much to be grateful for. If my thoughts begin to tend toward negativity I will choose a word or phrase depicting the reason for feeling negative, list it along one side of a page going down – then choose one word or short phrase for every letter listed which names something in my life that is positive. I have found peace and serenity in life – and one of my first discoveries was that true “Wealth” is not counted by material items. True “Riches” is in what one is able to do and to feel.

Miranda September 21, 2010 at 7:20 am

Thank you for sharing your story. You are truly an inspiration.

StreamWinner October 12, 2010 at 2:00 pm

The ancients of the East, particularly India, had realized that the world is an illusion. We are just specks of insignificance in a giant cosmic drama.

When you realize this, and the impermanence of everything, you will find it amusing how people measure themselves by trifles.

“Just Be”

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