10 Lessons in happiness from a yard sale

Rainbow Spirit, © D. Sharon Pruitt

Have you ever thought that your idea of happiness would be to spend a week’s vacation preparing for and holding a yard sale?

That you would be just beside yourself with delight at digging through boxes that hold years of foolish purchases, projects you were going to do, and clothes you bought and never wore?

And once you finished thoroughly enjoying that long walk down bad memory lane, you would also be doing a lot of reorganizing, neatening and cleaning up of what remained?

Hmm. Didn’t think so. Me, either, truth be told.

However, it’s what my husband and I did this past week as we faced years of just plain stupidity and clinging to stuff. We were sure we had trimmed our possessions down substantially a couple of years ago after we had attended Financial Peace University and became debt free.

We discovered, however, there was much more letting go and learning in store for us.

I admit that my hubbie and I got a little grumpy as we worked our way through stuff and cleaned out areas of the barn that hadn’t been touched in over 10 years. It would have been easy to feel cheated and angry, that we could have gone with our original choice to be in Tennessee visiting my brother and his family instead of deep into down-sizing and reorganizing mode.

But, it was time to face the music, and my eternal optimism was ready to dance to the beat.


So here are ten lessons in happiness I learned—and relearned—this past week.


Smile early and often.

Not only will you be happier, you will receive many smiles in return.


Be authentic in your friendliness.

The warm response you generate might surprise you.


Be joyful in the morning.

Nobody likes a grouch, yet it often doesn’t stop us from behaving like one. Be joyful instead. It’s a lot more fun.


Be grateful for the things you are letting go.

Remember that some folks own less than what you are letting go. Say a prayer of thanks for the abundance in your life.


Be content with less stuff.

When you decide to sell or give away things you no longer need or want, you may very well experience that “ahhhh moment” where you feel a weight lifted you didn’t even know you were carrying. You may not have even realized the stress that roomful, houseful or garageful of projects you plan to do “one day” was creating in your life. Just let it go.


Remember to say thank you.

People like to feel appreciated, and a simple and friendly thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the rest of your day! goes a long way towards lifting up people, including yourself.


Take the opportunity to delight.

Charge a little less. Ask the person how their day is going, or if they’ve seen anything interesting at other sales. Show them how to use something, or share a funny story. We all have an inner child who loves to be delighted, so have some fun.


Look for the good.

When you see children patiently waiting for their folks, or just looking with their eyes instead of their hands, let them and their parents know you’ve noticed. Remember that what we pay attention to grows.


Keep a playful spirit.

A friend of mine stopped by with her adorable little girl. Faith skipped around cheerfully, exploring all the treasures. She migrated to the toys, grabbed a couple of stuffed bears and put them in an office chair for an exhilarating, spinning ride. She was just enjoying the moment. We adults would do well to remember that lesson.


Give – it generates happiness.

Keep your eyes open for ways to give. We had a mom with two young boys stop by. The older boy kept picking up a couple of small baseball action figures, looking at his mom, and putting them back down. My husband noticed this, went over to the boy and asked him if he’d like the toys. The boy shyly nodded yes, and Keith told him he could have them as long as the boy’s mom said yes.  That little youngster beamed from ear to ear, and just played with those figures until his mom, who was very grateful for the small gift, was done. Of course, we made sure the youngest got to pick something to take home as well, as we didn’t want to cause difficulties. Giving freely and thoughtfully brings joy to the giver and receiver.


When we remember step back from wherever we are, we can gain a more true perspective, and ultimately, a deeper sense of happiness. There is always a move we can make that will leave us feeling more joyful and gratified.

Your challenge today and this week is to take one or more of these lessons and apply it. I’d love to hear what you’ve done previously, or what you plan to do.

Thanks for coming by and sharing in the comments. You enrich everyone’s day by doing so!



Sharing at No Ordinary Blog Hop, Better Mom, Finding Heaven, Things I Can’t Say, Write it, Girl!, Denise In Bloom

Image credit- D. Sharon Pruitt of Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr


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  1. So many wisdoms in today’s post, Kim! I especially like: “Be grateful for the things you are letting go.” We really are blessed.

  2. Kim–I have a storage buildIng that needs a good cleaning out. I’ve dreaded it and procrastinated. Thanks for reminding me that this can be enjoyable work.

    • You are welcome, Connie. We dreaded and avoided this project, too, but it is always a good thing to get it done. Whew! Good luck with tackling yours!

  3. Great post! This is such a better way to look at life. We also had a garage sale last weekend. They are a lot of work, but worth it in the end!


    • I agree-it is a healthier way to look at life, Shari. That being said, they are so much work to go through, clean, separate, reorganize, etc. I’m still recuperating. :-)

  4. I completely agree with Dr. Ann! There is so much wisdom in each lesson. My favorite is “What we pay attention to grows.” Wow. I always love finding you on NOBH! 😉
    Love and God Bless,

    • Christy, you are so sweet! The “what we pay attention to grows” resonates with a lot of other women as well, and is so important when we think about how we go about being moms.

  5. Kim I always enjoy my visit when I’m here! And who wouldn’t love anything about lessons in happiness? I certainly did! At the risk of sounding redundant, I also loved “What we pay attention to grows.” Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your perspective. It brightened my morning. Smiles!

    • No worries on being redundant, Amy! I’m glad to hear it resonates. It still does so with me, even though I have known it for years, I keep needing to relearn that lesson. I guess we are all eternal pupils in one way or another! Thanks for coming by with your wonderful words!

  6. Great suggestions, Kim! I have to admit that I hate having yard sales. I don’t like all the wheeling and dealing! But I DO like giving and I’ve found a great place to donate. I also volunteer there once a month and I apply some of your suggestions (smile, be friendly, etc). Our countenance and attitude is more powerful than we realize!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • I understand fully hating to have yard sales. We may just have done our last one. :-)
      I can only imagine the lives you touch with your smiles when you volunteer, and the joy that ripples outward. Thanks so much for coming by to share your joy, Susan!

  7. This is really inspiring! Thank you! I have more than enough stuff in storage to do a yard sale. I feel motivated to get started on making it happen in the next few weeks.
    God bless you and I love your sweet tips! Especially–>smile and smile early!

    • Wanda, I can tell folks are going to feel welcomed and happy just meeting you when you do hold your sale. Set the date for your sale, and start emptying your storage areas! I’m so glad you got some motivation here!

  8. Incredibly wise! ‘What we pay attention to grows..” I just LOVE that! Reading this post was a great way to start my day. Thank you!

  9. I secretly enjoy purging our “stuff.” I like reliving memories as I sort through things and love the result of having more space and feeling like I’ve accomplished something.

    • Ha, ha-you made me remember that when our girls would go visit the grandparents, we’d go through the toy box and pull out one or two things they hadn’t played with in a while. We’d hide them, and if the girls didn’t miss them for a while, we’d let them go.

      I am absolutely with you on having more space and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Thanks for coming by, SoupMama!

  10. What wonderful lessons learned from downsizing! Thanks for the reminders.

  11. I really love the way that you take the everyday and find a way to learn something with it- and share with us!

  12. I am very impressed, Kim, at what you and your husband accomplished, and the lessons you gleaned. I’m asking God today to develop more of a playful spirit. thanks, Kim :)

    • You are just so sweet, Dolly! A playful spirit is good to have, especially with that adorable daughter of yours!

  13. this was timely. we’re going to be doing some major cleaning out soon.
    and it’s hard to imagine you as anything but happy, kim. i just always assume you look like your profile pic :-)
    great thoughts and i think i’ll go write them down so i have them to refer to. . .
    have a great day!

    • Ha, ha, Steph. I am pretty happy, I’ll grant you that. I greeted our first yard salers with a loud and cheerful “Welcome to the Most. Epic. Yard. Sale. Ever!” I sounded like the announcements for wrestling type events (Are you ready to ruuuummmmbbbbblllle?!) Folks laughed and it was a good way to start the day.

      I wish you well in your cleaning out! Just imagine you have to move the stuff to a new home: would it be worth taking with you? Or, if our house burned to the ground, would we replace that item? We find those perspectives very helpful, although of course we are not wishing for our home to go up in flames.

      Thanks for your kindly words on my being joyful, but I must be honest here, especially since we all talk about being real: I’m not always happy. :-0
      You can see one example here: http://www.toodarnhappy.com/2011/11/28/a-confession-miss-too-darn-happy-isnt-always-happy/

  14. Yes, these are wonderful words to remember! We have successfully gone through half our house. We have a few more rooms to purge and reorganize, and I cannot tell you how much of a blessing it has been to live with less. I am excited to have that feeling about the rest of the house, but am dragging my feet a bit – it is such work afterall, but in the end worth it :-)

    • Yay! So happy for you that you are through half your house. What an undertaking that is! I understand the dragging of feet. I still have a bit of cleanup still to do-lots of stuff got dumped on my office desk so I can’t even work there at the moment. This weekend I will must take care of it. Thanks for sharing your success with us. You are sure to inspire others!

  15. Oh my. We have moved eight times in our marriage, cleaned out and had yard sales at everyone. And just yesterday, I said to my husband, “we aren’t moving but I have that itch to clean out again.” I have actually been thankful for that opportunity with every move, and then horrified by all the money I spend on stuff we didn’t really need, just wanted. In the last move we got rid of things we moved the previous seven times an still didn’t use. I don’t miss a thing. Nice post.

    • Yikes- eight moves! I agree about moving being a wonderful incentive to clear out and a real eye opener at wanton spending, too. Good luck with your next clean out. Thanks for adding to the conversation. Your multiple moves and yard sales are sure to encourage others!

  16. These are good lessons for anything in life! Right now I want to be content with less stuff. I’m at that stage in life where I just don’t want as many possessions. It’s not necessarily hard to let go, but its hard to find the time to move it all out. Our youngest has been selling things on ebay for us. Or we take it to Goodwill.
    Michelle recently posted…Fresh Air Fund…A Life Changing ExperienceMy Profile

    • Getting rid of stuff gives you so much peace! I cannot speak highly enough of dumping the excess baggage of your life and also becoming much more intentional about what you bring into the house.
      Sounds like you are well on your way. Thank goodness for our kids who can and will do things like eBay for us! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  17. I am so glad I read this (thanks to you linking up at Ladies Only Blog Share) because I feel like I really need it on this Monday morning. It’s hard for me to not be a grouch sometimes, but I will do my best to curb it.
    Tamara recently posted…This is Big Time, Baby.My Profile

    • So sorry you are having a tough time this morning. We all get grouchy, unfortunately. Last Monday was my turn. You never would have known I’m normally Too Darn Happy. ;-(
      Hope this triggered thoughts of joy for you!

  18. Just discovered this! What a joy! Thank you for sharing the love and the wisdom :)


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