thank you in many languages on shopping bag

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

Fortunately, gratitude doesn’t have a season. Like getting and staying organized, expressing gratitude is appropriate all year round.

Studies show that expressing gratitude heightens your quality of life, indicated by higher levels of enthusiasm, energy, and optimism. Who doesn’t want more of that?!

I also encourage everyone I work with and teach to shift their attitude from one of trying to defeat clutter to one of gratitude by saying thank you to the historic accumulation of things that surround you.

It might feel awkward, uncomfortable, or not even make sense, but if you have too much of anything, you’re in a state of abundance.

Saying thank you and releasing the clutter is much more effective than bringing a heap of anger and frustration to bear on the clutter, hoping you will beat it into submission. If you’ve ever tried that before, you know first-hand how unsuccessful and unsustainable a strategy that can be.

Here are 5 simple ways you can reflect and show gratitude.

As a result, you’ll get more organized while increasing your productivity and happiness.

I’ll start you off with a little bit of #3 by telling you how grateful I am for you. Even if I’ve never met you, your commitment to a simpler way of life and a desire to consume less and participate more means we are on the same path. Knowing that I’m not alone and feeling you walking alongside me gives me a deep sense of purpose and encouragement. And for that, I am grateful.

Now here are your 5 life hacks:

1) Create a Gratitude Box (or jar or basket)

If you’re crafty, go ahead and make the box itself a project but if you’re not, a simple cigar box, shoe box, or coffee can will work.

Starting today, write down one thing you’re grateful for and drop it in the box. It doesn’t matter if you’re grateful for the same thing every day—write it down and drop it in. Whenever you’re feeling down or less-than-grateful, open the box and read a note or two—it should give you just the gentle shift in perspective you need to celebrate all the bounty that surrounds you.

2) Take a 30-day No Complaints Challenge

It’s been said that it takes 21 to 30 days to build a habit. Let’s err on the side of conservativeness and give yourself a full 30 days. You don’t have to become a Pollyanna to avoid complaining. Remember that old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” That’s all we’re shooting for here. Positive speech or no speech will encourage you to focus on the good you can find in almost anything. Stumped for something to say? Just say thanks. You’ll be surprised at how your energy peaks because of the positivity you are pouring out.

3) Write a Gratitude Letter

Take a few minutes and think about the people in your life and how they contribute to your happiness and well-being. Then focus on one person and write that person a note. Express to them exactly what you appreciate about them and their presence in your life. Bonus happiness awaits you if you actually give or send it to the person.

4) Give someone something of yours that you think they could use or would enjoy. Bonus happiness if you weren’t ready to let it go yet.

It’s only stuff, after all. Whether you’re donating a coat you’re no longer wearing to someone in need of a coat or offering a dear friend an object they’ve always admired, you are the recipient here. Imagine how you’d feel if you spontaneously gifted someone something they loved that would always remind them of you and your generosity. Can you even put a price tag on that? If we could open our hearts up that much to share ourselves and our belongings with others, the world would look much differently than it does. Why not start the change with you?

5) Say Thank You Even For the Things That Upset You

When we don’t get what we want when we want it in exactly the way we want it, we can get cranky. When tragedy occurs, it’s even harder to find anything good in the situation. A wise man once told me, “Inside every disappointment is the seed of an equal or greater opportunity.” While it may feel impossible to recognize that opportunity right in the moment when our dreams are dashed, a simple thank you may still be said. You may not even really believe it or feel it, but say it anyway. It will soften your heart and soften the blow.

These 5 hacks will help kickstart or revive your gratitude practice and support you as you get and stay organized in all areas of your life. If you have others, please share them with me.

May you always remember who and what you are grateful for. 

BONUS: Visit the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and sign up for their RAK Friday campaign. 


Photo: Michael Mandiberg under CC License

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About The Author

Andrew Mellen's picture

Andrew Mellen is an organizational expert, public speaker, and the #1 best-selling author of Unstuff Your Life!

Andrew has helped tens of thousands of people worldwide to declutter and simplify their lives while regaining time for the things that matter.

A sought-after authority on organizing and productivity, Andrew's addressed audiences from The Great British Business Show to TEDx. 

Corporate clients include American Express, Genentech, NetApp, Time, Inc., and the US Depts. of Education and Homeland Security.

The media has dubbed Andrew “The Most Organized Man in America.” He writes a featured column called “Ask The Organizer” in Real Simple. In addition, he has written for and/or appeared in: The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, America Now, The Lisa Oz Show, The Nate Berkus Show, Oprah & Friends, Martha Stewart Living Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW11, HGTV, DIY Network, LiveWell Network, KnowMoreTV, Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day, Family Circle, USA Today, GQ, InStyle, All You, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Healthy UK, American Way, numerous trade and travel publications, and NPR.

He leads workshops and speaks internationally while maintaining a private practice working with clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, and non-profits to CEOs, award-winning filmmakers, and authors, as well as overwhelmed parents everywhere. 

In 2013, Andrew founded Unstuff U®, the world's first completely virtual personal organization training center, offering classes, workshops, and other online resources for businesses and individuals. 

Andrew is a member of the Experts Collective and serves on the faculty of the New York Open Center in New York City. He speaks frequently on the intersection of spirituality and organization at places including Omega Institute, San Francisco Zen Center, Tassajara, All Saints Church, JCC Manhattan, and the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, among others.

Previously, Andrew was an award-winning playwright, actor, producer, and director and the former Artistic Director of Alice B. Theater (Seattle), DC Arts Center (Washington, DC), and Shuttle Theater Company (New York). He is a contributing author to Yes Is the Answer: (And Other Prog-Rock Tales).

Andrew lives by his motto: More Love, Less Stuff!® 

Find him on the web at andrewmellen.com.

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