When it comes to your home, the often-used quote by Neil Barringham, “The grass is greener where you water it,” seems to encapsulate the idea of gratitude about the things you spend the most time feeling thankful for. If you want to learn to be more thankful for your home, consider spending time being thankful for it. Learn to practice watering the grass of gratitude.
As military families, you are no strangers to pulling up roots every few years to transition from duty station to duty station. With each move comes the often stressful task of finding a new home and not just going through the motions of buying or renting a space, but also the labor of love to make the house feel like home. Whether it is the white walls of non-descript on-base housing or funky wall color in a rental you cannot paint or your dream home you built yourself, there are three overarching themes to keep in mind in order to produce more thankfulness for your home.
Reflect on All the Functions of Your Space
It can be easy to fall into a bad habit of allowing your eyes and your attitude to focus on all of the aspects of your home that you don’t particularly love: that annoying off-center brick-surround fireplace in your mid-century modern ranch, the too-small entryway, the fact that this house doesn’t have a formal dining room and your last house did forcing you to store your beloved heirloom dining set. Instead of allowing those aspects of your home to color your perception of your home in all of its deficiencies, try to shift your thinking altogether.
Instead, take a mental home tour of each room and space and call to mind the ways in which that space lovingly serves your family. This is the laundry room where we have a place to keep military uniforms, sports uniforms, and school uniforms clean. This is the kitchen, and while small, it is where we prepare and eat meals together as a family. This is my kids’ bedroom where they will have so many fun memories of growing up giggling at bedtime instead of sleeping. You get the idea. When you reframe your mindset, you lead with gratitude instead of grumbling.
Care for It and Steward It Well
Another of the fastest ways to grow contentment and thankfulness for your home is to begin to look for ways to take the best care of it as is possible. Would adding a fresh coat of paint in the den brighten up the space? Would renting a carpet cleaner for the weekend help to refresh your carpets? Would a set of new towels make your bathroom feel more luxurious? Sometimes a small investment can go a long way in helping you to love your home more.
Cleaning is often an overlooked and underappreciated aspect of good home stewardship. A good session of scrubbing and putting some elbow grease into a deep clean of your home can quickly help you appreciate it more. A clear and clean space can often give the feeling of being in control of our environments, especially when so many other aspects of our military-related lives feel out of our control. If you don’t have the time, energy, or motivation to clean your own home, then hire it out and still enjoy the payoff of a clean and well-loved space.
Remember That the Who > The What
Speaking of illusions of controlling what we can and can’t, our homes are often one of the only physical places in our lives where we have some level of control. I may not be able to control my job or my kids’ school but I am the king or queen of my castle at home. That said, all too often we can begin to see our homes as our tiny kingdoms in which the structure around us and the possessions we fill it with can take up a lot of our thoughts and time. These are all good things but the best thing about our homes can’t be measured in square footage and furnishings.
The very best things about our homes are who we share them with. From our partners to our children, to our pets, and even our neighbors surrounding us, be reminded that these are the people or the “who” inside that matter so much more than the “what” that makes up the walls and windows of our houses. As military family members, we are all usually pretty in tune with our people because we know at any moment we could be separated by long distances.
This year, as you enter into the season of thankfulness and gratitude, see if you can shift your perspective about your home as well. When you love it well, it will love you back in a million ways.