Why We Might Need to Go on a Diet

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?


  1. Absolutely. I've always been notoriously difficult to buy presents for, because I know I don't need anything, really. Even as a child, if I was out with my family and my parents or an aunt asked us if we wanted anything, I was always the one who would say no. I rarely felt like I had to have something just because another kid had it.

    I think I've fallen into the opposite extreme, though. Aside from new books, I very rarely indulge myself by getting someone that's just for me. Most of what I buy for myself, or put on my Christmas wish-list, are things I can share with friends, like a DVD, or a boardgame we can all play together. I'm not very good at even taking time for myself, day to day.

  2. Thanks Jody. This was lovely. It's not Thanksgiving in Australia, but we are thankful nevertheless! And we wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving over there.

    "Things" are addictive. And like most addictions, they slow us down. Am trying to learn to hold a little less tightly to "things". A lifelong lesson I suspect...

  3. Hi Paul and Belinda! Hope you both have a lovely day! And Paul it sounds like you're a tad "skinny" right now and perhaps need to start "feeding" yourself a little more! :-)

  4. I'm certainly trying, starting with taking time every day to look after my own needs. :-)

  5. I'm thankful for how far God brought me this last year. It's not lost to me how hopeless I felt one year ago this morning and how FULL my life feels now.

    Spending the day with my family who lost everything in a tornado 4 1/2 years ago also helps me remember what is really important. They have a sign above the kitchen sink that says "The most important things in life aren't things." Amen.

  6. That's why books are such a good gift. They are still valuable after you've read them. You can pass them on, donate the, sell them or, after a certain interval, read them again.

    Why don't we resolve to support our fellow authors and buy a book from a blog we follow, an author who has written an article we benefitted from, or for self-published authors, maybe a book from another self-published author.

  7. You're so right, Jody, and the "possession obesity" grows even more when you've got kids! Every year, I struggle to come up with "wish lists" for the many relatives who want to buy them things--one year, I suggested items like swimming lessons, museum tickets, or ice cream shop gift certificates, and the grandparents were not down with that. They insist on having some large, boxed item to be unwrapped. Sigh...

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Excellent points, Jody. When I was a child I didn't get everything I wanted, so I appreciated each gift greatly. These days I'm one of those who struggles to come up with a Christmas or birthday list because I have more than I need and most of what I want.

    We in the U.S. and other developed countries enjoy tremendous material blessings. I'm reaching the point in life where I'd prefer to find someone with a real need and meet it instead of indulging myself. I don't think our college daughter is quite ready for that, but perhaps in time she will be.

  9. In my teenage son's Thanksgiving letter to his grandparents this year, he mentioned being thankful for "trials and tribulations," because they strengthen his faith and bring him ever nearer to God. I thought that was a very healthy attitude...especially since we will never escape trials in this life.

    I absolutely agree with you that a diet from "things" would benefit most of America. One way we try to keep the proper perspective is to find ways to give Christmas away" each year. One of my favorite ways is to drive through the Starbucks drive-thru for my favorite latte, and then pay for whoever is behind me. I never stick around to see their face when their order is free, but just imagining their delight is a wonderful gift to me!:-)

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jody!

    ~ Betsy

  10. Oh so true. I called stop when on year my mother in law regifted me what I gave her the previous year. Too much stuff, can it be about spending time together and experiences? Last year I gave her a toilet-giftde to an African village so young girls could attend school without having to share bathrooms with boys. This year she may "get" a goat.

  11. "We’ve become overweight with our possessions."

    You get a resounding Amen from me (and a link on my blog).

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jody!

  12. Hi Jody and all!

    Awesome post, Jody. Great points and so true for so many of us.

    It's Thanksgiving! Yippee! I'm grateful for so many things. My 86 year old mom, who is also a cancer survivor and living with us, my daughter Meghan who is working with Youth With a Mission and been to Sri Lanka, and Guatemala, and heading to Spain and England in the New Year spreading the Gospel, my daughter Katie's graduation from high school after years of fighting an illness, an awesome marriage of thirty years, and my first novel to see publication.

    Don't forget to pray for our military men and women. I'm so grateful to them.

    We've got way too much stuff at our house. I really think I'll feel healthier with less stuff and more organization.

    May God bless all of us with good health this coming year and lots of fun surprises along the way.

  13. Lovely post, Jody.

    My husband and I started giving part of our Christmas present money toward buying a gift from the World Vision catalog each year. We thought it would be a great way to teach our kids (when we have them) that the holidays is more about giving than receiving. I'm so thankful we have the means to do it. God has blessed us so much. I definitely don't give thanks for those blessings often enough.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. I manage to keep my gadget greed under control by constantly reminding myself I don't NEED every gadget under the sun. I had a little trouble with my bead and yarn stashes, but I've reined myself in.

    BUT... my appetite for books is getting worse. From where I'm sitting I can see about 40 books I haven't read yet, and that's before I look at my Kindle. OK I haven't bought them all... some are freebies. I now need a year off to read through my book stash. What can I do to stop myself from acquiring more in 2012?

  15. I'm especially thankful for the security and coziness of my home and for a loving family. I think we take for granted the things we have that other people consider unattainable luxuries. I grab an extra afghan to wrap myself in while reading or pull up the duvet at night, while there are people who sleep in cold alleys without a single warm blanket.

    My elderly aunt knits quantities of toques and mitts for distribution to the homeless. My hubby and I fill a few 'Samaritan Purse' shoeboxes with Christmas gifts for children in need, donate to disaster funds, and contribute regularly to local food banks, but it always seems inadequate when I acknowledge our own abundance. I don't support the 'Occupy Wherever' demonstrations, but I admit the inequality of wealth in the world is appalling. When I think of it, I don't know whether to feel thankfulness for what I have or guilt.

  16. So true Jody. I have one friend whose kids get as much as mine get from everyone just from their grandma and another one who is only buying one gift because they are going on holiday at Christmas. I think a holiday and one present is way better (but that's not hte point) they have such a religious attitide towards Christmas and being somewhere between the two, I hope we can lean their way a little more by next year. I can't believe people buy huge presents for their kids at Easter here, usually something for summer like a bike. When I was little that was for Christmas or birthday not along with your Easter egg. Unbelievable. And there's the people who have to spend the same on each child, well my son is getting a DSi for Christmas so do I have to buy my 3 yr old another fifty presents to match it, I don't think so. One thing that bothers me these days is relatives want to buy toys. When I was little they bought a sweater. There's just way too many toys now, it's ridiculous. p.s. check your email ;)

  17. This is so true. Seriously, I shuddered a bit when I read this post. How can we teach our kids values when we make a big deal out of the wrong part of Christmas.

    I've been leaning towards a "service-oriented" Christmas this year, but this post pushed me over the edge. We're doing it.

  18. This year - financially - we needed to cut back. So my Christmas gift (a tad early) was a chest freezer. Funny how getting something you NEED seems anticlimactic until you realize you can open your fridge freezer without wearing a hard hat and holding a net to catch all the food as it slides out from where its been stuffed.

    I LOVE MY CHEST FREEZER ... sure, I'll miss my ultra cool unnecessary gifts, but ... stretching to pay for needs brings things into perspective. :)

  19. I have read many posts on thankfulness during the past week. None of which have struck me like yours, Jody! Perfectly stated, perfectly explained. Every year I feel more and more confused as my family members ask me what I want for Christmas. I don't want anything except for one year, I want everyone in my family to give up material gifts. For one year I want everyone to forgo material gift receiving and instead, spread thankfulness. Spreading thankfulness helps everyone. #RethinkChristmas
    Thank you, Jody!

  20. Hayley, so glad the post struck you right in the heart! I wish you all the best as you try to rethink Christmas! :-)

  21. Very thought provoking. My DH and I were just discussing radically cutting the number of gifts to 3 for our daughter (3 being for the 3 gifts of the Magi). Her toys have already taken over our living room and she's only two. As for us, we'll be cutting back, too. We had to throw out a whole lot of stuff just ti decorate for Christmas. If that doesn't say overweight with possessions, I don't know what does.

    Thanks for this wonderful post.

  22. Hi Virginia! Glad the post went along with what you were already thinking of doing! Isn't it amazing how our children's toys can take over? There is just SO much out there! Blessings!

  23. Great timing for this reminder. Making an effort to think about what you're grateful for instead of what you wish you had is a much healthier mindset to create.

    I listened to a comedy routine recently (possibly Chris Rock) and one of his rants was about how everyone thanks mom for cooking a good meal, but no one thanks dad for the roof over their heads, the lights being on, or the heat. Since listening to that, I make an effort to say thank you for all of those things that are so essential, yet so easy to take for granted.

    re: stuff at the holidays... this is a tricky one when there's someone in the family who loves to shop (not me) and will use any excuse to go out and buy a bunch of stuff... I have pleaded over the years to please not give me the gift of clutter, but it's tough to not come across as ungrateful or a Scrooge.


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