On Gratitude

I attended a Thanksgiving dinner today and was reminded how important gratitude is.

Being grateful brings humility and gladness. No matter how bad things get there is probably something we can still be grateful for.

I’m thankful for the peace I experience daily. I don’t live in a war-ridden territory, nor do I need to see my husband or brother going to fight. I know where my children are, and they are well.

I’m thankful for the basic necessities. I have uninterrupted access to clean water, shelter, heat and fresh food, as well as recreation, education and social involvement.

Every time I get over a nasty cough, I remember how grateful I am to breathe easily.

I’m amazed I can plan for my future, with some level of certainty. I am grateful for the likelihood I will live through my seventies and enjoy my children’s children.

Please add a comment – what are the things you feel gratitude for?

Finding “the one” (part one)

If you want a great romantic partner, you need to be a great romantic partner*

I’ve noticed a trend in women’s fiction. The male hero is one-dimensional but loyal and romantic. His interests, career and friends are secondary to his love for the heroine. Women read these books and watch the films, and develop this engrained expectation that real life will be similar.

I see women identifying with the novel’s heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, and wishing there was a real life Mr. Darcy to woo them. That’s okay… but are they anything like Miss Bennet? Or are they more like her mother, Mrs. Bennet? Or like her sister-in-law, John Dashwood’s greedy wife?

I’m talking about awareness and reality. Relationships require give and take. If he treats you like a queen, you know you’re lucky to have him. But if he asks that you treat him like a king, do you recoil in horror, thinking he wants you handcuffed to the kitchen sink, barefoot?

There is no one-sided romance where your perfect mate will make it all happen beautifully. You need to take responsibility for who you are and what you have to offer. Only then will you find a prince charming and only then will the relationship last beyond the initial fun.

Here are some questions to help you become more aware.

  1. Picture your perfect mate. What are his main characteristics? What are his hobbies, aside from treating you like a princess?
  2. Now, picture his perfect mate. What are her characteristics? What is he looking for in a woman?
  3. Are you that woman? Do you want to be?
  4. If you’re in a current relationship, are you being “the one” for your partner?

Have I simplified this too much? Please comment with further questions!

As a side note…
Most importantly, please be yourself. Faking any part of it, no matter how small, will come back to haunt you. If you find a mate who loves you for who you aren’t, what’s the point?

*I’m writing about women finding men, but this is easily applicable to men seeking women (or whichever combination appeals)

The best excuse

I have posted about priorities, motivation and common obstacles for getting started on a life of stylish minimalism. Today I want to address excuses. In short, there is no valid excuse. I believe excuses are a commonly accepted way to claim the desire to change but to not.

But why would someone make the claim? Why do we say, “I really should go swimming” or “I want to finish that photo project” and then follow up with excuses why we haven’t?

I think the answer is usually something along the lines of what other people think. What they expect. Who we think we should be. I have a real problem with living life like this — because it’s NOT LIVING your life. Decide who you want to be, and make no apologies for it. Nobody can argue what you want. And I’m not talking hedonism here. Working on the big picture priorities (your life vision) is not always fun. But turning down other peoples’ priorities is going to happen a lot.

If something is a priority, it’s important. When you know something is important – really important – you don’t make excuses. Instead of saying “I can’t” you ask “How could I get this done?” and start making changes to get yourself there.

If you “really should go swimming” but obstacles come up (and you’re making excuses) I urge you to check if this is really a priority if your life. Once you know it IS a priority, check out this post on how to get and keep yourself motivated.

If you still can’t get started, what’s stopping you?

So what’s the best excuse?

And if you scrolled down here without reading the above, I applaud you for trusting your judgement on what’s important and spending your time accordingly. Hooray!

The best excuse (even though I hate calling it that, it’s more of a reason) is: “That doesn’t fit with the vision I have for my life so I’ve decided against it.”

I’d like to close with an example from my own life. A few years back I started learning how to play the clarinet. I enjoyed it and made great progress in only half a year. When I devoted a lot of daily time elsewhere (4 hours daily commuting plus 3 hours a week studying) I didn’t have time to practice. Music is a priority to me, bringing me peace and joy. So I eliminated everything else less important but still couldn’t make enough time. I made the sad decision to stop playing clarinet. I hoped to take it up again once I moved and finished studying but then I had some children, and they take up even more of my time.

I was realistic enough to realise I will not have time to learn in the forseeable future so I sold the instrument. When someone asked me (taunted me?) if I was still playing, my answer was a guilt-free “No, I don’t have the time.” Without going into my reasons/excuses why I don’t have the time. It effectively ended that topic of conversation. I can’t tell you if the person asking was disappointed to miss out on the “yes, but”  game… but I can tell you I felt and still feel at peace.

If, for whatever reason, you aren’t doing something… that’s fine. Let it go. Don’t make excuses and don’t beat yourself up. I believe in hard work, building your life towards fulfilling your life vision. But if something does not fit into your plan, let it be.