Gratitude and Frugality: Week 1 of 52 Weeks of Frugal Living

Welcome to the start of my 52 Weeks of Frugal Living series! Thank you for stopping by. If you are new to the blog I hope you will take a look around through the archives. I’ve been writing on here since 2009, and there’s some great stuff from those days when I was a mom to one, working in an office, living in a two-bedroom apartment in downtown Ottawa.

So much has changed since then, but my dedication to frugal living has never been stronger. I am putting some energy into reviving this blog to help me stay focused on building frugal skills, but more importantly to share these skills that I have gained over the last five years with a wider audience. I hope to inspire my readers to reach for the life they truly want.

Simple abundance
Simple abundance

And to get there, I invite you to begin with gratitude. Giving thanks and acknowledging our gifts is the very best foundation for a frugal life–and even a frugal 52 weeks!

We all have so much, but sometimes we forget. We tend to focus on what we lack, when what we really need is to pay close attention to all the things–and people–we already have in our lives. We worry about our lives not being what we want them to be, and we forget to add up all the amazing gifts of the moment.

When we document what we have, we often realize we have more than we thought. How many times before starting my last push of Christmas shopping  have I started listing all the presents I’ve already purchased and remember “Oh yeah! There’s that one–and that one, oh and that thing too . . .” and realize I’ve already bought a ton that I had squirrelled away and forgotten about!

We do this with material things, and also with other gifts in our lives. When we make it a practice to honour what we have, we can start to feel fuller than before. Maybe we don’t need so much more. Maybe what we already have is more abundant than we think.

How to Practice Gratitude

1. Start a Gratitude journal

Books like Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach have been hugely popular for years. I started my gratitude journal last winter after reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Closing in on a year of writing down what I’m thankful for, I am almost up to two thousand gifts, penned in small black ink letters. I don’t write every day, but I try to write often. Sometimes I forget for a long time, and I let my dissatisfactions take hold of me, but sitting down to write in my book always takes me out of myself and helps me to feel peaceful.

2. Take a Gratitude walk

Some days my 30 minute walk is the only time I have to myself. Maybe you have a daily drive, or some repetitive housework where you have a moment to think. Try listing the things you are grateful for. I have had walks where I am so taken up in gratitude that it has me grinning at trees and saying a goofy hello to everyone I meet.

3. Gratitude prayer or meditation

Most spiritual traditions have some practice of giving thanks. You can pick a deity that feels comfortable to you–or just praise the universe–and bring awareness to all the wonders you experience today.

4. Saying Thank You

I once got a job because I sent a thank-you card. I think the other candidate was more qualified, but because I said thank you, I stood out as someone my boss wanted in the office. I have also received notes of gratitude that filled my heart to the brim, especially unexpected ones. It can be a lovely practice, especially because it brings joy to another person.

How do you experience gratitude in your life? Leave a comment below or join us on the 52 Weeks of Frugal Living Facebook group!

The photo above was taken in my old apartment in downtown Ottawa when I had only one child and was working in an office. We didn’t have much, and I spent a lot of time then longing for a different life, but this photo captures a sense of gratitude for the simple beauty in my life.


2 thoughts on “Gratitude and Frugality: Week 1 of 52 Weeks of Frugal Living

  1. That’s a lovely post Colleen. I read about gratitude myself and journaling gratitude a couple of years back through the book called Happiness Advantage by Sean Achor. He’s a psychologist that trained at Harvard I believe. Anyhow it is an amazing practice and you’re so right that it is one of the best things you can do every day and particularly at Christmas and a great way to start a new year. Sean suggests to sit with your family at dinner and share three things that you’re grateful for that day. It has a very very pronounced effect on your happiness. Thanks for posting. Holly

    1. Thanks Holly! For both the nice comment and the book suggestion. I will see if the library has it 🙂 For some reason I’m not sure the family sharing would fly in our house, but it’s worth a shot!

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