Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful.

Since I’m in town for Thanksgiving, I joined my parents at their church on Sunday morning.  The pastor’s sermon was about the importance of gratitude and the freedom we can experience if we embrace an attitude of thankfulness in our daily lives.  He used a Benjamin Franklin quote that struck a chord with me.

“Contentment makes poor men rich.  Discontentment makes rich men poor.”

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in thinking about all the things I feel that my life lacks.  I know in my heart that this mindset isn’t right.  Focusing on what we don’t have and indulging in self-pity only pollutes ours minds and souls with negativity.  And to think, some of us spend our entire lives chasing all those “missing things”, believing happiness is on the other side of obtainment.  We’ve been brainwashed to believe the more we have, the happier we’ll be.  That falsity only leads us down a rabbithole of discontentment, and I’d venture to say that ceaseless yearning and quest to fill the void is what causes many of the challenges we face in our lives: health problems, addictions, broken relationships, etc.  Sometimes takes a gentle reminder to get back to where we ought to be.

One of my favorite TED Talks is by David Steindl-Rast.  He explains that availing ourselves to the opportunity of being grateful in every moment is the key to happiness.  I strongly encourage you to take 14 minutes out of your busy day to watch it.

Click HERE and be inspired.  You won’t regret it.




ReThink: Holiday Shopping // PART II

Another Black Friday has come and passed.  I don’t know about you, but I refuse to shop on that day.   I hate going to the mall on a regular ol’ Saturday, so you will most definitely not catch me out and about on the wildest day of the retail year.

I stood in my mother-in-law’s kitchen that morning, drinking a cup of coffee and watching the news channel cover the annual in-store fighting.  I felt sick to my stomach, and so disappointed in these supposedly domesticated adults behaving like feral animals, clawing at each other over TVs and Jedi Master Lightsabers. It’s beyond disheartening that these people had just spent the day before being thankful for everything they have in life, just to turn around and trample that gratitude, determined to buy all this stuff that no one really needs.

I refuse.

I refuse to be a part of a movement that is poisoning our society.  Consumerism consumes us.  When will we realize we are slaves to a monster?

I refuse to allow my mind to place so many items in the NEED category. This is definitely challenging for me.  Mitch and I were at Target the other day, and I found myself explaining to him that I really NEEDED that black felt hat. (What a boldface lie!)  I’m striving to really differentiate my wants and needs so that I don’t fall into the trap of mindless purchasing that I was once in.  An honest evaluation of our Wants vs. Needs can and should be done, not only during holiday season, but throughout the year.

I refuse to accept that Christmas is a time that Mitch and I will be broke because of all the shopping we have to do.  I’ve seen people post memes online about this sort of thing and it makes me so sad.  It really doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t.

I refuse to let materialism trump love, family, and all the other things that really matter more.  I love giving gifts, and there are so many cool gift options out there, but I think we need to be more thoughtful about our purchases, and realize that there are other ways to spread love and holiday cheer.  (This might be a good topic for another blog.)

I said it in my last post, but I want to encourage you to join me: Let’s reclaim what it means to celebrate the holidays.   Let’s resist stuffism and instead embrace simplicity.  Let’s make this world a better place, you and me – all of us together.  We can do it.

I believe.

BOb hope



ReThink: Holiday Shopping // PART I


I can’t believe it’s that time of year already but we need to talk about holiday shopping.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet because I don’t think anyone needs a lecture on this topic.  It’s pretty simple.  We need to re-think the holidays.  Maybe even re-structure our value system… Dig deep below the surface and take a chisel to the cold hardened shells of consumerism that have developed over our Grinchy hearts over the years.

We all say the holidays are about family, creating memories, love, joy and peace and all the things money can’t buy.  But do we actually believe that?  Moreover, do we LIVE it?  Most of us *somewhat* live it.   We spend time with our families and create memories and share all the feels.  But we can’t escape the feeling that it’s not really holiday season without the gifts.  So we buy and wrap, buy and wrap.  Rinse and repeat.  By the New Year,  we’re exhausted and broke.

Here’s something directly from the National Retail Federation’s website:

“NRF’s latest survey finds that holiday shoppers plan to spend an average $463 on family members, up from $458 last year and the highest in survey history… 

Americans plan to do almost half of their holiday shopping online this year, and one in five of those who own smartphones will use them to purchase holiday merchandise, the highest since NRF first asked in 2011.”

Online shopping has made life so much easier.  With a click of the mouse, I can order ANYTHING I need and have it shipped to my door within a couple of days.  AMAZING.  I love it, especially now that I’m a mom.  BUT (!!!) online shopping has also created monsters out of some of us, myself included.  The temptation to make mindless purchases is greater than it has ever been, and most of us don’t really fight it.  Clickity click.  Yay, more stuff!

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.  I’m not against buying stuff and I’m not against giving gifts.  (In fact, I really love to give gifts!)  I just think we need to tone the shopping down.  WAY WAY down.   I’m so tired of hearing stories about people hurting each other in the aisles of stores, all because we NEED to buy that precious (whatever it is).  Ridiculous.  Shameful.  This is the world we live in, the world we’ve created for our children.  Let that sink in.

I read this week that REI will be closing all of its 143 stores nationwide on Black Friday, and paying their employees to spend that day outside.  Their website won’t even be open for business.  This kind of move is unheard of in the retail world.  Closed on Black Friday??  As I read the article, my heart filled up with emotion and I thought I might cry.  It was a refreshing breathe of hope to say the least.   Since REI made their announcement, a few other retailers have joined their #OptOutside campaign, and it just makes me so happy.  It makes me feel like our society has a fighting chance in getting back to what matters.

On that note… Here is your formal invitation to join me in rethinking holiday shopping.  Let’s be smarter about it.  Let’s spend more time, and less money.  Be more thoughtful, and less impulsive.   Let’s reclaim what it means to truly celebrate the holidays.