Most of the people reading this blog are probably among the population of the world that has WAY more than we need. In fact, if you’re like me, you have SO much stuff that you have a hard time coming up with a Christmas wish list.
Every year, I struggle to write a list and usually it ends up looking something like this: chocolate, coffee, slippers, fuzzy socks, pj’s, clothes, and pretty kitchen oven mitts.
There’s absolutely nothing on my list I NEED.
Quite frankly, my kids don't need anything on their wish lists either. My eight-year-old son certainly does not need a General Grievous Transformer since he already has plenty of Star Wars action figures. And my youngest daughter doesn’t need the pink Webkinz Pompom Kitty since the end of her bed is already piled high with stuffed animals.
Of course, my children have had their wish lists put together since last Christmas. Well, maybe not quite. But they always have ideas of what they’d like. Thus, I’m continually reminding them that while it's exciting to get gifts, the newness never lasts. Our things quickly lose their shine and importance. Pretty soon they end up in the corner taking up space. And we’re on to wanting the next new thing.
Yet, even armed with knowledge that THINGS ultimately don’t fulfill us, I find my kids (and myself!) still craving more. The pulse of the modern culture beats through us, pounding with the steady insatiable rhythm of gimme, gimme, gimme.
I can’t help but stop on this U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and ask myself, what are we teaching ourselves and our children by constantly feeding our appetite for things?
We’ve become overweight with our possessions. And as you know, obesity is often the cause of other problems. What are the long-term effects of our over-indulging going to be, especially upon the next generation?
Is it time to put ourselves on a diet?
I think at the very least we can start cultivating an attitude of restraint within ourselves. Teach ourselves to say “no” to getting everything we think we need. Give ourselves permission not to have to keep up with our neighbors. Stop believing that having more is going to make us happy. Tell ourselves it’s okay to live simply and not to have the latest and greatest items that come out.
Then I think we can begin to retrain ourselves with a healthier lifestyle, primarily in taking large doses of gratefulness on a daily basis. Slow down, find contentment in the possessions we already have. Notice the things we take for granted and let gratitude whisper through our hearts for them. Remember what really matters in life—the intangibles like laughter, and hugs, and deep conversations. Relationships. Family. People. Love.
Thankfulness may not be the complete antidote to our over-indulgent lifestyles. But it’s a start.
So what about you? What are you most thankful for? And how are you cultivating a healthy lifestyle of gratefulness?