I spent a lot of money in my adult years trying to compensate for the fact that the majority of my clothes as a kid were hand-me-downs. My farmer dad did not believe in spending a lot of money on clothes, so once I became an adult with my own money, I gave myself a monthly budget and the permission to buy myself whatever I wanted within my budget.
I now have a huge closet full of almost everything I’ve ever wanted (except a smaller booty).
But sometime over the past couple of years, things inside of me began to change. I saw a homeless man on my way home from the mall one day and felt guilty about all the money I’d just spent on shoes. I made my first Gucci purchase and realized that, despite the superior quality, it did nothing to enhance my life.
At some point, I realized that in trying to give myself everything I’ve ever wanted, I was chasing something that was unobtainable. Sure, I could spend hundreds or thousands of dollars being the first to have the latest trend, the most expensive purse or the hottest car, but the pleasure that comes from those things is fleeting. Once you’re in that particular rat race, the one of always striving for more, more, more, there’s no getting out. There will always be the hunt for the next thing. There is no end to chasing materialistic treasures.
Having all the beautiful things in the world will do nothing to make you fulfilled as a person.
So I started working on other areas of my life, and my priorities began to shift.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still like to shop, but it’s not what it once was. I no longer obsess about having the latest, hottest pair of boots (and where would I even store said boots, since my closet is full?). I no longer feel insecure when I see a woman walking down the street with a cuter purse than mine. Because, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. What does matter (to me) is the difference I make in this world. It matters that I smiled and looked that homeless man in the eye, that I gave him money because I thought he needed it. It matters that I choose a cause and donate to it. It matters that I am trying to make a change in my own little corner of the world. I even went so far as to develop and start a youth program. Even though it’s small (for now), at least it’s something.
Maybe the biggest change for me has been Christmas. Last year, my husband and I decided that we didn’t need anything new, so we both chose a charity to donate to and spent our money on that instead. There was a small part of me that was worried that I was far too selfish to pull this off, because Christmas was always meant lots and lots of presents for me. But Christmas morning came and, though I didn’t have any presents to unwrap, I truly enjoyed the day. How could I not? It is magical time and I was spending it with my loved ones. Plus. all of the Christmas cookies made me happy, too. I didn’t love Christmas any less than I did when I received gifts. In fact…maybe I enjoyed it a little bit more because my perspective had changed.
The season, to me, is now about giving. I have so much–more than I need–and it only feels right to start giving back.
I have encouraged my family to start pondering what the holidays are really about, but my sister-in-law says it’s different when you have kids. She says I’ll change my mind, that once I have kids I will see how happy they are when they unwrap their presents.
Maybe. But I also want to raise kids who know that real happiness comes from within, not just from all the shiny things you own.
The funny thing is, as I have been buying less, I feel like I have more. When I think about everything I have, I know that it is enough. It is more than enough. And that is why I must keep giving to those in need.
So now I challenge you to think about your own life and all of the many blessings you have. Are your needs met? If so, what are you doing to help those who are less fortunate?
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