I went garage sailing with my daughter this past weekend. The weather was beautiful, and citywide garage sales made it the perfect day! Throughout, I couldn’t help but notice how much “stuff” people had for sale: exercise equipment, clothing, books, candles, kitchenware’s, toys, decorating items, pet items, prom dresses, you name it! House after house had excess stuff that they needed to rid themselves of, hoping someone else just had to have it. All of this excess was available for someone else to take home and add to their stuff.

We love stuff. If we didn’t find what we needed while garage sailing, there are thousands of stores available with millions of items waiting for purchase. Still can’t find it? Try the Internet! The only thing we may not be able to purchase is happiness.

I had a discussion with a client the other day about the difference between trying to better your life by buying stuff and by being grateful. We can’t find enough stuff if we are unhappy with our life, our self, our situation. We cannot buy a better life. There is not enough money in the world to buy our way into happiness. This has to come from within. Many people don’t ever understand this, and spend a lifetime trying to buy their way to happiness; they keep thinking that if they improve on the things in their life that will make them happy. A competitive cycle of trying to keep up with people follows with them believing that if they only had the same stuff as someone else then they would be happy.

Happiness is achieved only when we are satisfied and grateful for what we have, where we are, how our life is right now. Happiness can’t be bought. It is achieved and earned. We give it to ourselves through effort and the awareness of where we are and how fortunate we are. Our stuff has a part of this, but just a small part. Our happiness is about the awareness that we have all our basics needs met every day, without difficulty; our health is good; we have our family; a job. For all these things we should express gratitude and thanks, not compare our homes to other ones in the neighborhood.

Gratitude is the awareness that we need to express thankfulness and appreciation for what we have been given; it includes everything from our material possessions to the wonder of nature, the beauty and magnitude of the world around us, the experiences we can never have achieved all by ourselves. Conversations with our Higher Power so many times are one sided: this is what I need; here are the things that I want; this is how I need help and I need it now! . . .And this is what needs to change. Gratitude is our conversation with our Higher Power about our awareness of what he has given to us; our health, family, home, nature, seasons, laughter, abilities and chances in life, and so much more. Gratitude is the awareness of just how little “stuff” we need; that for everything we have we need to give thanks.

Only gratitude can buy us a better life.