Managing a home and keeping up with all the bills, cleaning, maintenance, and repairs can sometimes become overwhelming. If you find yourself challenged by your current surroundings and losing sleep over it, you may want to take up a practice of daily gratitude towards your home. The positive effects of gratitude are well documented. The list of benefits is huge. In fact, there does not seem to be any downside to it! It’s free, it’s effective, the more you do it, the bigger the benefit.
“Daily discussion of gratitude results in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, energy, and sleep duration and quality. Grateful people also report lower levels of depression and stress, although they do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.” (Source: UMass-Dartmouth)
So, rather than dwelling on the problems with your home, I suggest taking a moment to shift your thinking and focus on the things that are going well with your home. Through a practice of daily gratitude with your house and home in mind, you will find that you feel happier and more content. You’ll begin building a foundation of great memories in your home that will serve you for years to come.
20 years ago, when my family moved back to Michigan from Kansas City, MO (in 1996) we chose to buy a fixer-upper home on Ann Arbor’s Northside. We put about eighty percent of our belongings in storage and rented a townhouse apartment for a year. At the time, the experience was very stressful: new job, bills, an expensive remodel and endless work on all fronts. We were stuffed into an apartment. We bit off way more than was reasonable. Looking back on that time and experience, the details and stress of daily life are long forgotten. The memory is of a special and joyful time. Our third child was born, we made friends with the neighbors, the kids played on the sidewalk out front where we watched from the kitchen window, and we explored and experienced our new town, Ann Arbor, with great excitement. Looking back, we loved that apartment and time!
What if you could experience today as if you are looking back from 20 years in the future when the details are long forgotten and all that is left are the special memories and joy? You can do this through a simple process of giving yourself a “time out” to enjoy and appreciate your present home and situation through gratitude.
Regardless of where you are, you can practice gratitude for your home. Here are my suggestions for ways to get started:
Think about what drew you to your home in the first place
What is the story of how you found your home and what got you to this place? Take the time to write this story down and tell it to someone. Having helped 100’s of families discover their home I have many stories of how circumstances played out in unexpected ways. Many times after the fact I have heard “I am glad that home fell through because otherwise, I would have never found this home”. Or, “It’s more than coincidence that things worked out as they did.” Add to that – Who did meet along the way? How is it they came into your life? Even if you are in a temporary place or in transition this will help you feel gratitude for things big and small that got you here. It might also help clarify your next move.
Take a minute to notice the small things
The way light comes in the window in the afternoon, the wood floors, how quiet it is or the sounds coming from the neighbor’s house- kids playing, music, a tree in the yard. The little things ARE the big things. Sometimes they are humorous – what is an example of something really funny about your house. Often something little and mostly unnoticed can bring comfort and heartfelt joy.
Think beyond the four walls
What is in the neighborhood, your town – friends, family, nearby park? Is it close to your favorite coffee shop? Do you have a daily routine? There are many factors that you may not see when you look around but that is just as (or more) important than space itself.
Lighten your load
Giving something away can make you appreciate what you do have even more. Start small, with a few books or some clothes you don’t wear. And if it helps you appreciate your home more, don’t stop there. Think about how your unused stuff is going to serve someone else and how grateful they will be to receive it.
Create a gratitude jar
Sit down with your significant other and write out three things you are grateful for on a small piece of a page and put them in a jar. Set this up as a daily event, after dinner perhaps. After a period of time, maybe a year, take them out and read them out loud. Or how about glue them on a piece of poster board and place it where you can stop and read them.
- The process of writing down and sharing gratitude with someone is very powerful. Jane Rasom, in her TED Talk: Discover the Three Keys of Gratitude to Unlock Your Happiest Life, says: Emote: it’s not enough to just think about gratitude you have to feel the emotion. Feel grateful. Make it heartfelt. Express it verbally. Also, Extend your gratitude beyond yourself to include other people; be grateful for the others around you. And, Exercise daily.
Love your home
Selecting your home is one of the most important decision you ever make, it supports you, shelters you, houses your loved ones, the most important people in your life – your children and parents, It is witness to the most important events in your life- it has an effect on your relationships, health and well being in a profound way. By expressing gratitude toward your home, you are honoring it. Sound silly? Why not try it and see if the happiness you feel for your home and even the relationships with those you live with improves?
Here are a few things that I am grateful for in my home:
- I am grateful for Michael Gross who built it. A true old school craftsman. Thanks for insisting on using the more expensive good materials. He was a wizard with the materials and skills of building a home. He juggled the tradespeople, and they were all good!
- I am grateful for the wood floors in my house. They’re 21 years old now, and other than a few high traffic areas that are worn, they look new.
- I am grateful for the quirky floor plan. The house was moved from downtown Ann Arbor, placed backwards on the lot, and then was added onto during two big remodels. It is not typical. It’s humorous, different, and refreshing.
And sure, there are things I don’t like about my house. For instance, it is drafty and cold in the winter. The closets are small and sometimes there’s highway noise. As Bob Marley says:
“Just because you are happy it does not mean that the day is perfect but that you have looked beyond its imperfections.” -Bob Marley
Last but not least, some people complain that they will run out of thing to be grateful for. To that, I say not a chance.
Here are five ways to get an endless supply of gratitude ideas. Ask yourself these questions when you are stuck:
- What am I truly grateful for in my home, my life?
- What relationships do I have? Who lives with me? What would it feel like if they weren’t there?
- What do I take for granted in my home, my life?
- What freedoms, unique abilities, and options do I have that others don’t?
- What advantages have I been given in life?
- Who has helped me to get to where I am. How did they come into my life? Very powerful!
I hope you will give these things a try, and do let me know how it goes! Give me a call at (734)845-9700 or fill out the form below.