Cultivate Presence. Stop whatever you are doing and devote your full attention to being still or slowing down. If it helps, close your eyes. Become conscious of your breath breathing itself.

Follow one complete inhale-exhale cycle with your attention. Notice how simply and exquisitely you are nourished and renewed by the flow of air in your lungs.

Bring your awareness to the present moment, and allow yourself to soften into it…

Cultivate Perspective. Look at the place where you live. Notice that you have a place to live. Try to see it through a fresh lens, through new, unaccustomed eyes. Imagine someone coming to visit your residence who has a great deal less than you do – no matter what you have there are always people who have less. Imagine yourself showing the person where you live – taking them through each space in your home…feeling true gratitude for what is yours to show and share. This exercise can add immediate perspective to how we see our lives.

Notice the enoughness of your life in any ways you can. Allow feelings of scarcity to move away in favor of a sense of sufficiency – appreciating what is yours to appreciate. Wherever there is enough or more-than-enough, let yourself experience this as a gift.

Now, try focusing specifically on the kitchen – the place where you prepare food. Allow yourself to imagine that the room was completely empty or that this room did not exist at all. (Sometimes it helps to imagine NOT having something that we love and take for granted in order to really feel grateful for it). See empty cupboards, counters, and drawers in your mind’s eye. What would change in your life if you did not have what you have? What does this place offer you and others in your life?

Cultivate Possibility. Go. “What we appreciate appreciates,” says Lynne Twist. Notice what you need and love in your kitchen. Appreciate each thing; the faucet, a stove, spoons, etc. Try writing down things that you most love in your private journal. Or draw a heart on beloved items with an erasable pen. Or put a heart sticker on it. Or a post-it note with the word “gift.” Bring appreciation to things you use every day.

What would taking nothing for granted look like? What could you do to creatively remind yourself about the ways in which you are fortunate?

“The store was closed, so I went home and hugged what I own,” says Brooks Palmer.

Wherever you notice “more than I need,” keep a bag or box and begin putting things in there to give to others who might love/need them more than you do. Put a bag or box in each room for a period of time so that as you notice “surplus,” you can share it. Talk about your commitment and invite others in your household to recommend things to give away – this can spark great conversations about living simply. Redistribute good fortune. Look into formally sharing bigger items that are used less often with neighbors or friends – a bicycle, lawnmower, laundry machines. Learn about and contact Freecycle.

Being grateful, commit to really noticing and sharing what you have – living simply so that others might simply live. Appreciation for what we have is a first key to contentment, and can blessedly offer the possibility of sustainability for others and the planet.

Deepening Resource:
Read this wonderful story by Glennon Doyle.

Kristi Nelson

Kristi Nelson

About the author

Kristi Nelson is Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living and the author of Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted. Her life’s work in the non-profit sector has focused on leading, inspiring, and strengthening organizations committed to progressive social and spiritual change. Being a long-time stage IV cancer survivor moves her every day to support others in living and loving with great fullness of heart. Learn more about Kristi here.