Let gratitude be your guide

On Saturday while writing my gratitude list it occurred to me that one could apply the feeling of gratitude to their decision making process while decluttering. It really is a very simple concept. If the item you are considering doesn’t make you feel grateful that you own it then it probably isn’t something that you need to keep.

There are many reasons to be grateful for things that you own. You might be grateful that an item makes a task easier. You may receive pleasure from the beauty of another item which is also something to be grateful for. Other items may bring you warmth, comfort, joy, security, happy memories or their purpose may be purely utilitarian but help keep your home in order. All these are good reason to be grateful and retain certain items.

Why not give this test a try. Just remember the gratitude must relate to the present. If you find yourself keeping things because you are grateful that they were useful in the past ~ the past being months or years ago ~ then it is time to let them go and just be grateful that you got your money’s worth out of them. Similarly if you find yourself thinking you will be grateful you kept this or that item only when you find a use for it in the future ~ a future that may or may not occur ~ then I think you need to reconsider this decision.

Just imagine your household only containing items that you are grateful that you own. How wonderful would that be? Everywhere you turn and every time you use something you get a warm fuzzy feeling of satisfaction and thankfulness.

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Quick question :~ Are any readers having problems with accessing 365 Less Things at the moment. I am seeing no problems at my end but one of my readers is. Please let me know if you are experiencing problems so we can investigate what could be causing it. Thank you.

Today’s Mini Mission

 Declutter craft fabrics that you haven’t had inspiration to use in a long time.

Today’s Declutter Item

Now here is an item that I was grateful to have while it was useful to me. I was also grateful that it cost me next to nothing and I more than got my money’s worth out of it. Now that I have decluttered so much I no longer have a use for it. I have given in to a friend who hopefully will appreciate it as much as I did.

Storage Bins

Eco Tip for the Day

Don’t throw those old sheets, towels, blankets and pillow in the trash donate them to an animal shelter, humane society, wildlife rescue service, kennel or veterinary surgery.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Revel in the moment Have you ever enjoyed one of those TV series where the two main characters have a love interest in each other that takes episode after episode to come to climactic fruition. The build up […]
  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Efficiency I have been thinking a lot about efficiency recently. We are constantly told by ourselves, our friends, and the media that we don't have enough time. Is this true, or are we just deeply […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. no problems here. your blog is working fine.

    I think being grateful is one of the basic emotions one should never forget. gratefulness makes happiness. fewer things make happy, because the ones that are left are usually the ones that make me happy as well…

    • I agree Lena, many times a day now I experience the joy of gratitude for the things I am using. And that is simply because mostly all I have left are items I love or items I use often and are helpful to me.

  2. 1st cousin to your gratitude idea, being grateful that I have stuff to give to others in need. God blessed me for the purpose that I can bless others. This idea makes the shedding of excess possessions a happy experience for me.

    • Good point Gail, and in future when you are done giving away the things you don’t need you can switch to donating money that you are no longer wasting on unnecessary stuff or time that you don’t need to spend earning money that you don’t need for buying unnecessary stuff.

      I am loving that I no longer feel the need to earn money and am able to devote my time to helping others.

  3. No problems here either. And I just looked around the living room and found that I am grateful for almost everything, except the things on the coffee table from last night (candy wrapper, ice cream dishes, and headphones). I’ll go move those now, and then my living room at least will be completely decluttered 🙂 (Now, the rest of the house is another story, but at least this room will be nice – nowhere near minimalist, but clean and full of things I enjoy)

    • Good for you Amanda and remember the Keep Tidy Challenge for November. Don’t worry though because I haven’t been a saint at it either. As I write this there are a pile of duty pots and pans in the kitchen sink from last night. Mind you that is the first time in a week so I have improved.

      • Colleen – I am relieved to hear that others aren’t perfect. I can confess that the Keep Tidy Challenge has been a little bit challenging, especially last thing at night as my guys aren’t big on clearing up after themselves and I’m sewing ballet costumes at the moment, but I can say that its been a huge improvement but not 100% success just yet.

  4. No problems here acessing your blog. I have been feeling less than grateful for a lot of stuff still in the house. But to declutter some of the bigger itens I have to declutter all the things they have inside…Lots of work coming my way!

    • Hi Andréia, just remember my friend, it didn’t get that way overnight so I will take time to right the problem. Be patient and chip away at it one thing at a time. It is all in the mind set.

    • Hi Andreia – I was wondering about you over the weekend, keep chipping away, it does take time but I’m loving the improvemement that decluttering has made to our home, no panic if we have unexpected visitors, much easier to keep tidy, a more relaxing place to be etc, but it has taken quite some time to get it to this point and there is still a way to go. Hang in there!

      • Hi Moni! Thanks for the thoughts! The thing is, like Colleen once said, I did declutter the “onsight” clutter, that clutter you see it is clutter, but I am getting to the stuff that is inside wardrobes, I am having to rethink my storage solutions (less storage, more efficiency) and it is a lot of work. I can’t walk into my bedroom and just toss whatever is inside a unity I have there and be done with “the thing”. I have to have new places for the much used stuff that is on that. I have to have easy acess to the stuff that I use a lot (deodorant, cotton swabs, makeup, hair clippers) and must, have, really should have, decluttered stuff that is just there. Some emotional clutter there. As it has been said here, the hardest kind of clutter.

  5. This is an excellent rule to go by! I like this. Also, I can access your site with no problems. 🙂 I’ve been reading along (not commenting so much as lately I read on my phone while snuggling the baby).

    I hope this is okay but I want some input. My husband and I got married 6 years ago. We had two green photo albums (the color of our wedding, supposedly) and my aunt in another state had this metal photo album engraved with our invitation on it (kind of sloppily done, unfortunately). Last year, I donated the two photo albums because I had the metal album but now, I’m looking at the metal album and wondering if I even really care for it. It’s fairly large and flat, intended for a coffee table, but my husband and I don’t really care to print 40 pictures from our wedding 6 years ago. Our focus these days are on us as a married couple, our family as a group, or our kids. You know? We do have a couple of our wedding pictures on display already.

    What would you do? It’s such a personalized album that I can’t really donate it. It’s in new condition because I never used it. I’m completely at a loss. This is the item in question, actually:

    • Hi Lynn, my advice is to get rid of it. Donate it even though you think no one would want it. At the thrift shop I work at we have many creative people who love nothing more than to buy objects and repurpose or alter them so even personalised items have a desirable factor to someone else. If it was customised in the first place I have no doubt it can also be altered.

      I feel the same way as you about not caring to print of all those photos to fill it up. My wedding album has hardly seen the light of day since we took possession of it. A lot of water has passed under that bridge in 25 years and we have created so many other wonderful memories that are just as important that don’t have there own personalised album to document them. The only album I need is the one that flitters by in my mind.

    • Lyn – if you don’t love it, then ditch it. Replace it with a nice framed photo of the three of you to sit on the coffee table instead, or check out your local photo store for other clever photo ideas. If your aunt by some chance does visit, it is perfectly understandable to have baby photos or family photos around instead.

      • Recycle bin. The metal can be reused. The plastic photo pages can be reused. Any paper/cardboard baking can be recycled. Cur out the parts w/you name & address & recycle the rest.

        • Do you mean me? If so, I can’t cut it, it’s metal. My husband is on board, though, and he’s going to try to pry it off. I’ll donate what’s left in case someone wants it.

  6. No access probs here either. I’ve been away a lot recently but still been decluttering and helping a friend with her aspirational clutter (arrggghh). I’m really grateful for this site although i dont comment as much as i could. I love reading the comments and all the ideas and tips – Colleen, Cindy and all of you – you are wonderful, inspirational people and thank you loads for sharing your experiences!

  7. Lynn, can you find an alternate use for it? Jewelry box or landing box to place keys etc in by the front door? Or to upgrade another item such as recipe box? I have a silver frame with the name of my college and the year of graduation (1994!) that my mother gave me. I feel awful that I never used it. I have moved over 10 times since and it always makes the move as I don’t know what to do with it 🙁

    • I appreciate the ideas! I already have a jewelry box that I adore, from my husband. I don’t need another recipe box and this album box is quite large. It takes up a lot of counter/table room, you know?

      • Lynn, I looked at the link you provided. Could you possibly pry off the metal plate that has your personal info on it, then donate the album?

  8. It’s working meanwhile, but very slowly (takes about 5 minutes to open this site).

    Lynn, I don’t know about your box. I’d say, either you like it, then try find a use for it, whether it be a photo box, a sewing box or a box for stationery.
    If you don’t like it though, I’d get rid of it. If you don’t mind that personalized item ending up in a thrift store, I’d drop it there. Maybe some creative mind falls in love with it and finds a way to alter and use it. People fall in love with funny things, you know?
    If you don’t want something with your names engraved and wedding date on it (or whatever) to enter other peoples hands, you might also get that engraving removed by a silver smith, jeweller etc. and find another use after that. Maybe even offer it to some friend or relative who likes it and get a new plate to make it a nice, personal and lovely present for him/her.

    • Hi Sanna, so far it seems no one else is encountering difficulties with the site. It is weird that mine is the only one you are having problems with. This has happened in the past for other readers though but I don’t remember why now.

      • I think it weird, too.
        Problem is, we don’t know, whether those who encounter problems aren’t able to post a comment and thus are silent.
        But maybe it’s really just your server being mad at me personally or something like that. 😉
        (I have a computer savvy boyfriend though, so I’ll make him help me to make sure I take all the steps on my side)

        • A couple of years ago my server decided it didn’t like 365 while everything else came through OK. No idea why. The problem eventually fixed itself but meanwhile I got to have some nice emails back and forth with Colleen. Bonus!

        • Good point Sanna, it could just be that others having problems can’t get through.

          • It seems to work normal by now. 😀 Still, I’ve no idea what has been the problem, though.
            I’m sorry that I have caused you troubles.

    • I don’t want to sound ungrateful but I don’t want to put any money into this item. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t want it and I’ve never really liked it. I just haven’t known what to do with it. It feels wrong to trash it (and our personal info as well as address and whatnot are on there) and for privacy reasons, I don’t want to donate it.

      I may see if I can pry off the engraved portion…

      • Hi again Lynn – I’ve just remembered a photo album that was made for us that was really awful, tacky, it was an explosion of lace, ribbon, glitter and embellishments. And it had a photo of us on the front. Obviously a lot of effort was put into it but it just wasn’t me at all. At the two year mark I put it into a bag and into the bin, I never thought of it again until now talking about yours which is 100 times nicer, but I have lived 18 years conscience-free on the matter.

        • Moni, we had one of those wedding albums too. Horrifying. The quilted puffy fabric, ruffles surrounding the window-pane photo holder on the cover. Ribbon tie closure. Pepto Bismol pink color fabric with tiny wedding bells, kitten heads (well it sure looked like decapitated happy kitten heads) & bouquets. Sewn-on sequins scattered about randomly. Looked 3 times it’s original size due to all the embellishments. Meant to be prominently displayed atop your out-going trash bin…..err…I meant coffee table. Yes, coffee table. Did I say trash bin? Silly me. How ever did it end up in the trash bin? Well I do declare!

          • Jane – we didn’t have any decapitated kittens heads but I now recall some lassoed doves, I think it was meant to be two doves carrying a piece of ribbon (why? what self respecting dove would be a ribbon carrier?) but one had gotten the ribbon wrapped around its head. Maybe it was a dove at the gallows.

            Thank goodness photos are digital these days, it will save future generations the horrors of embellished photo albums.

        • I know exactly what you’re talking about! I don’t think I’ll feel any guilt over giving up this item. We have my favorite pictures printed out and framed and one year for my birthday or Christmas, I want a quality, wireless, photo frame. Then I can hang that in some prominent space and add whatever pictures I like!

      • My husband recently removed the engraved metal plate off a plaque he received on retirment, thanking him for 23 years of dedicated service (he says it was 21 1/2 years of dedicated service and 1 1/2 years of waiting to get the h*ll out of there). Those plates are usually stuck on with double-sided tape. If it doesn’t pry up or twist off easily, you might try a bit of heat (hairdryer,perhaps).

        • Thanks! This is valuable info to me. I’m going to talk it over with DH and make sure he doesn’t care and then give it a try. I’d be so excited to pass this along!

        • Ha ha Wendy, 1 1/2 years waiting to get the h*ell out of there. Sounds like the last job I had and I was only there of three years total.

      • Maybe just take a hammer to the personal stuff and maybe that will make that part unreadable, and if that makes it unusable for someone else, it will still be recyclable. Or maybe a metal file might take the engraving off. But keeping something you don’t like or feel obligated to, just adds to the load on your mind.

  9. I see, Lynn.
    Just recently I got rid of some supposedly “sentimental” presents myself. Luckily, I’ve been able to sell or donate them, but I also trashed one item with my name on it (only the first name, so nothing too private).
    I ask myself, why on earth it has your adress on it? It seems strange to me. I thought there were maybe only your first names and the date or something on it.
    I completely understand that you don’t want to invest any money in it. That was just an idea if you knew someone who would love to have it if it weren’t for those personalizations.

    • It has our entire wedding invitation listed on it, which included dates, phone numbers, addresses, full names (and parents names), etc. Actually, the address isn’t current…but it still has a lot of our personal info on it. I’m a little wary of putting that out there!

  10. What a great post Colleen. I’m going to do that today after my yoga class 🙂 My husband and I had to move all the furniture out of our bedroom and living room yesterday in preparation for new carpet being laid. I was VERY grateful that there wasn’t much of it to move!

    • Hi Loretta how is the new house going. It was so beautiful you must be loving it.

      • Hi Colleen,
        Settling in well:-) Am using the opportunity to create new (better!) habits in place of old ones that don’t do me any favours (check out “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg – fascinating). I’m loving the extra space – especially in the garden . And I’ve started inviting people over, not waiting till everything is ‘perfect’ because it never is, and we both know it’s not about what a house looks like, but the hospitality that is offered. A BIG lesson for me.

        • Ooops, just remembered that Cindy reviewed that book earlier this year. Anyway, if you haven’t read it yet, it’s well worth it.

  11. Being grateful for the things you do own and use certainly brings a different perspective to your “stuff”. If you don’t love it, enjoy it, or don’t use it, then there is no gratitude there. So it is better to give it to someone or donate it, so that it can be used by someone who is in need of it and would be grateful to receive it. Most of us have more than enough in every category, whether it be clothing, kitchenware, shoes, etc…, but being able to give to others (as mentioned in a comment above) and coming to the realization that my excess is someone else’s gain, makes me grateful. That is something that I will ask myself in the future when I am contemplating an item. Am I grateful to have it in my life?

    • Jen – I think that is why I enjoy freecycle so much. I was telling a friend about freecycle and she said I should just do a ‘everything is free’ garage sale but I don’t think it would be a positive experience at all. When I list something on freecycle, it is fascinating reading the requests of why that person wants that particular item and on collecting they are usually very grateful.

    • Great Jen you really took on this idea well. That is exactly the reaction I was hoping for.

  12. I quite like adding the idea of “am I grateful for this item?” to my check list. sometimes there is stuff that you just feel neutral about, so its a new perspective to bring to the process.

    • I’d also add the – do I want to open a box or fling open a cabinet & see (item in question) staring back at me? If no, it goes. If not sure, it goes to the indecision pile. If yes, it stays. I’m always grateful to get rid of something that’s for sure!

  13. Sometimes I’m grateful to be simply rid of an object! Particularly when it’s been nagging at me a while to let it go, or I’ve felt too guilty to do so.

    I’m grateful for the constant encouragement from everyone on this blog to keep reducing and simplifying my life.

    • Oh I understand that gratitude Gail. In fact I am constantly grateful for the fact that getting rid of stuff came easier and easier to me as time went on. And having a friendly and helpful community here at 365 sure has been great encouragement.

  14. I like the idea of adding “being grateful for” to my questions about an item.

    I am having problems. Didn’t get this post or the Tuesday one. I just went out and deleted the blog from my subscriptions and then resubscribed. Will see how that goes. Had to do that before so it will probably work.

  15. I like the idea of considering “Am I grateful to have this item in my life” when decluttering. This may make it easier to donate some of the family things that I have been wavering over.

    • Yes, me too. I was lumbered with some family heirlooms earlier this year that no one wanted so I got permission from other family members to sell them and then commissioned a beautiful handwoven linen basket with the proceeds. Win win in my book, I got shot of stuff I was definitely not grateful for and now have something useful and stunning that i am grateful for.


  1. […] Gail comments on being grateful to have have excess to share with others. […]