People often laugh when I tell them that I start my Christmas shopping in July. The way I see it, there is wisdom in strategically evading the raging December rush. What unfolds is a madness that can make even the most passionate shoppers cringe. While the central point of the season is celebration, we often get distracted by a society that screams at us to spend.
This shopping frenzy merely reveals an excessive culture of consumption. We consume more thinking it will somehow make our lives worth more. We fill rooms, garages, and self-storage units. We tell tales of idyllic travel and waste hours finding that online deal. We fill our days but empty our hearts.
Somehow we know there’s a better way to live. We realize we get caught up in a culture that tells us we need more to make up for the things we lack. But as we consume more, we feel emptier which leads to consuming even more. It is time to live differently. We need to consume less, because we know it steals our joy. More than that, our consumption impacts the environment, climate, and the lives of people just like us working in horrendous factory conditions. To change our consumption habits, we must not only retrain our minds, but also uncover our hearts.
Our drive for consumption is most often rooted in comparison. When we compare ourselves to others, all we notice is the disparity between what we see that they have and we don’t. We think that we are missing out and begin to believe that we will be short-changed and left behind in the race for a better life. This scarcity mindset is certain that the future will fail us—that we will not have enough.
Several years ago I found myself caught in the trap of comparison. Upon taking an honest look at my heart, I realized a preoccupation with assessing myself according to what I saw others had. I became my own worst enemy – hating myself and hating others – because they had what I thought I wanted. The result was an inward-focused striving that hurt my friendships and bank account.When it is occupied with self, comparison leaves no room to care for others. Click To Tweet
Comparison is the archenemy of love, and I learned that the hard way. When it is occupied with self, comparison leaves no room to care for others. It controls our decisions, compromises our finances, crushes our relationships, and steals our joy.
Comparison is obsessed with having and being the best, which drives us to purchase and perform. It boasts a podium with only one winner. To win becomes an all-consuming lust for more. And when lust swallows love, the only thing left is hate.
By uncovering the root of fear in my own life, I began a journey towards contentment. A wise, young man named Timothy said that, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). Contentment became the key to lock-up comparison. I knew I would need to pursue contentment; it would not simply come to me. But how do you chase contentment?
I discovered that the path to contentment came from turning away from my apparent lack and paying attention to the daily gifts I received. Gratitude paves the way for contentment. When I began to recognize that all I have is gift, the natural response was to be grateful. Once again, I was free to love others, free to celebrate others, and free to embrace who I am and what I’ve been given. I truly realized that I had enough. And all it took were two simple words my mama taught me – thank you.
What would it look like if gratitude became our inward rhythm? Could we turn the tide of our consumeristic society through a small army sending up our simple, yet consistent, expressions of thankfulness? When contentment reigns, consumption wanes. When we know how much we’ve received we are happy to give. Maybe those two simple words our mamas taught us is actually the start of an economic revolution.