A Simple Approach to Living With Less

5 Simple Steps to Being Thankful for the Yucky Stuff

It’s not always easy to be thankful. Life isn’t always pleasant and there’s far too much yucky stuff to deal with in our lives. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be thankful in spite of it.

Our family has been dealing with some “yucky stuff” lately and it’s been hard not to give up and give into the negative feelings. So, this post is a lesson to myself. I hope it helps you as well.

5 Simple Steps to Being Thankful for the Yucky Stuff

1) Take a deep breath. Remembering to take a step back and take a deep breath can often prevent you from doing or saying something you’ll regret later. Emotionally charged moments and gut reactions are inevitable but you get to determine the course of action you take. Having a “time out” isn’t just a good tactic for children. I’ve been known to give myself a time out when necessary as well. Taking that deep breath helps me be thankful.

2) Remember that things could be worse. In most cases, things could always be worse than they currently are. I have spent the majority of my life sitting around a dinner table hearing tales of the emergency room from my dad the doctor. “Patient of the day” stories are a tradition at my house. Trust me, things could almost certainly be worse. Realizing that a bad day could be a worse day will help you be thankful that things aren’t as bad as they may seem.

3) Change your perspective. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes isn’t just an old cliche. Changing your perspective can teach you valuable lessons. My kids constantly teach me lessons because they don’t see the world like I do. I feel stress in situations where they only feel excitement and anticipation. When I have days that are so noisy and chaotic that I want to run and hide from my own children, I remember my friends who are desperately and unsuccessfully trying to have children. Changing my perspective helps me be thankful.

4) Make a list. A time honored tradition by many is to go around the table at Thanksgiving and say something you’re thankful for. When is the last time you made a list of things you were thankful for? Being thankful shouldn’t be a once a year event. I promise you that sitting down and composing a list of things you’re grateful for will make the yucky stuff fade into the background. There are so many things to be thankful for in our lives that we tend to take for granted and just focus on the not so good things that pop up. Making a list helps us recognize our blessings and all we have to be thankful for.

5) Fake it ’til ya make it. If all else fails, just fake being happy and thankful for the yucky things. Make a decision with your mind and your feelings will follow. Don’t feel too happy today? Smile and act happy anyway and you’ll get happier. Feeling grumpy or not so loving? Do something nice for someone else and your feelings can and will change. Being thankful sometimes takes training especially when things don’t seem to be going your way. Making the choice to be thankful makes it easier to be thankful the next time the yucky stuff comes around.

What are you thankful for today?

I am thankful for everyone who has picked up a copy of A Minimalist Family Christmas. It has been the #1 Kindle Holiday book nearly every day since its release. So thank you all for that. If you’re looking for advice and ideas on simplifying your holidays you should check it out.

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Article originally published on 11/18/2011

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  1. AudreyAssadFan says

    I agree with all but the last one. If we are unhappy about something, we need to really take a look at it and evaluate why we are. Circumstances come and go and some of them are horrible and some are happy, but if we are negative, I believe God gave us that reaction for good reason. We need to take a hard look at ourselves and our lives to see how we can make it better, say no to something else, or surrender it all together (accept it for what it is). When my Mom died, I couldn’t fake being happy even if I tried. I just told everyone around me, they had to accept me as I was for that time. I know I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around, but actually those that stuck around proved to me their friendship and the rest faltered along the way. I don’t think if I was “fake” happy that I would have seen those people for who they were. Also, I’m a very realistic person so whenever I have faked anything, I automatically feel like a huge liar. So when that happens — when I’m so negative I can’t see anything else — I just tend to take a step back from people for a while, re-evaluate things, say no to things, accept certain things, and then at some point, I’m able to function again. Thinking positive is really hard for a lot of people, especially realists because we see the world in black and white sometimes and so putting a shine on a crappy attitude just feels like lying. Or at least that is my experience. But I agree with the rest of what you said. Hope your not so happy things get better.

    • Thanks for your comment, Audrey. I understand what you mean. I was just coming from the point of view that people often let their feelings rule their life. As an example, far too many people fall out of love and just give up. Feelings ebb and flow like the ocean. We can’t always feel great. We won’t always be happy or even thankful. But knowing in the midst of the not-so-happy times that we’re blessed to be alive and purposefully looking for things to be thankful for, can have the end result of being happy and grateful.

      “Faking it” in terms of lying to other or to yourself wasn’t exactly what I meant but I was probably a little unclear on that. Being sincere is definitely important but looking for the happy side of things has value as well.


      • AudreyAssadFan says

        @FaithJanes@AudreyAssadFan I agree. Thanks for the clarification. I didn’t mean to misjudge your post. It’s very hard to look for the happy side of life (esp. when you are in the midst of yucky stuff) so thank you.

  2. BerniceWood says

    Sorry you are going through some trials. I think that numbers 1 & 2 are so important. A deep breath can really help. And having personally almost losing my husband 3 years ago, I know that things can be worse.

    I actually just got news today that my 18 year old daughter is pregnant. I wasn’t expecting this, it isn’t what I would wish for her at this point in her life, but it is what it is. And while it is not the greatest thing at this point in her life, things could be so much worse. She is in a stable loving relationship with a great guy. They both are working hard at full-time jobs, and they are happy and committed to raising a little family.

    I hope that you situation does turn around soon!

    Big hugs, Faith!


    • Thanks for the hugs, Bernice. There really is nothing quite like a major health scare to make you appreciate every day you have with a loved one, is there?

      And congratulations are still in order for you and your daughter. I truly believe children are a blessing even when they are unexpected. It sounds like she is in a pretty good spot with a good support system. Things are bound to be tough but that’s what grandmas are for, right? 🙂 I hope you can be excited for her because I’m sure there will be plenty of people all too quick with their negativity.


  3. mnmize aka Jessica says

    Great post. Sometimes we do forget how blessed and fortunate we are, and it’s important to always try and have a thankful attitude for the things we do have and for the people that love us. I have definitely felt bummed to the point where writing out a list really does help put things into perspective! Thanks for your reminder to always be grateful! 🙂

  4. This was a great post. Thanks for sharing. Very inspiring and I enjoyed your words of wisdom as someone who is usually a sweat the small stuff kind of person. I really enjoyed it.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it. My dad has a sweatshirt that says “Don’t sweat the small stuff….It’s ALL small stuff.” Definitely a good reminder. 🙂 @STACSMIT


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