The Secret to a Truly Abundant Holiday

If I had one wish this Thanksgiving Day, it would be to liberate everyone around the world from over-consumption.  Because stuff never brings genuine happiness.

It may bring fleeting moments of happiness, but not a deep abiding joy.

Karen Ruby beautifully explains the sense of freedom that comes from recognizing this simple truth:

“Now that I am debt-free, I look around at all the things that I had put on my credit card and line of credit and can just smack myself in the head. What was I thinking? I was probably thinking that since I couldn’t stand my job and since I worked so hard (if sitting in front of a computer all day long is hard work), that I deserved to spend my money on some retail therapy. Instant gratification.  On things I ”wanted”, rather than ‘needed’.”

Doesn’t she hit the nail on the head?

Think about it for a moment.  Isn’t excessive spending often driven by a need to fill an emotional gap of one sort or the other?  Do you ever find this to be true for you?

Somehow though it almost always backfires.

The satisfaction is momentary and then we crave more, which creates an endless cycle of never having enough.  Stuff never really fills the gap.  Most of the time it brings a slew of its own problems. Like bills, debt, repairs, loss, fear of theft, breakage, wearing out, not meeting our expectations, or not giving us the same charge as when it was new.

It’s mind-boggling to learn that:

“Americans spend more money trying to look young than we spend on educating our young.  We also spend more on dieting than on feeding the hungry, although modern agriculture has made feeding the hungry an attainable goal.” – Eileen Flanagan

Despite all these pleasures and indulgences, we never seem fully satisfied.

A New Vision of Abundance

The minimalist movement is all about nipping over-consumption in the bud and embracing simplicity to secure a deeper happiness.  Don’t worry,  I’m not proposing that everyone become a minimalist.  I don’t think it’s necessary to do away with consumption altogether.

But I do wish -  with all my heart – for a new vision of abundance.

It’s a vision of prosperity defined not by:

“having an abundance of material wealth but more in the sense of flourishing mentally and emotionally.” – the Dalai Lama

In short, to be always well within.

When you are always well within, outer circumstances can change – they always will – but your sense of contentment, confidence, and happiness will not be troubled too much.  Big sufferings may come, it’s just a fact of life, and you might be thrown off balance for awhile.  But in time you will find your way back to center and reconnect your own inner spring of genuine happiness.  Real happiness is an inside job.

So before you are lured into unnecessary spending on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, take a moment to consider:  what do you truly need?  What do others truly need?  What will bring you true happiness?

Sure, it’s the holiday season and there’s no reason to be a Scrooge.  But there are many reasons to be moderate, including your own sense of sanity as well as the health of the planet.  Enjoy yourself fully but in a sensible way that doesn’t bring more stress and hassle now or in the future.

Ideas for Green Gifts

Here are some green gift ideas to help you keep it simple and sane this holiday season.

The Joy of Gratitude

While you are still in Thanksgiving mode, you might also enjoy my article on gratitude:  101 Rays of Gratitude.  Creating a list of 101 gratitudes is an incredible exercise that I recommend to you.  It will definitely strengthen your gratitude muscle.

I also want to take a moment to tell you how enormously grateful I am to all of you.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, leave comments, tweet and share my posts, and support me in so many other ways.  Your interest, kindness, and insights bring a sense of richness to me each and everyday.  Thank you with all my heart.

This Thanksgiving, I wish you true abundance and prosperity.  May you always be well, happy, and safe.

Any thoughts to share on true abundance?  What are your plans for a saner holiday season?

Thank you for reading.  If you liked this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks so much!  Sandra

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Comments

  1. says

    I am grateful and full of thanksgiving for your friendship and encouragement these past few months. Your passion and love are abundant and overflowing. Your posts and thoughts are helping me “flourish mentally and emotionally.”

    My wish is for a joyous Thanksgiving for you, your family, and all your readers.

  2. says

    HI Sandra,
    I love how you have so clearly pointed out the difference between NEEDs and Wants. For me too, the NEED is more a guide to spend only when necessary. Eg, If I’m out and something catches my eye, I ask myself “do i truly need this?” ..and believe me I cant lie, not even to myself! I only buy something when the Need arises not when the want arises. Wants don’t have reigns, needs do. We need air to breathe, we want air-conditioning……! ;)
    Love this article Sandra!
    And I’m thankful for YOU…truly..I’m so thankful for our friendship and this bond we have. Its priceless!
    Lots of love and Happy ThanksGiving!
    Z~

    • says

      Dear Zeenat,

      Thanks for underlining the difference between “needs” and “wants” and sharing your approach to buying.

      I’m also incredibly grateful for the priceless bond we have. I’m grateful for all the positivity and goodness you spread in the world. I know everyday is ThanksGiving for you! :)

  3. says

    Beautifully written Sandra…I love your phrase ‘A new vision of abundance’…

    You’re very right, there does need to be a paradigm shift throughout the world as to what brings joy, happiness, and value vs. what brings a temporary fix.

    Have a most wonderful day of gratitude and thanks.

  4. says

    Sandra, sane is right. Inside that emotional gap, we stuff all this stuff until we can’t breathe. We’ve all done it. And we’ve got to find ways to heal, close the gap and be well within. Love this post. You’re so inspiring.

    • says

      I’m thankful that I am closer to seeing the world after the 2011-2012 events.

      I notice that even though many of us have already asked ourselvse to make the shift from consumerism to conscious purchasing the next generation of children and adults are still being bombarded by” have me and have fun”. Also I have heard that in at least some foster care programs(joint parenting) for those children who have disabilities the rules often encourage foster parents to spend like mad.

      Also those of us on SSI and or SSGA(Social security for the disabled) we are encouraged to spend by having a $2,000 cap on money and most assets. As such our government does not encourage the disabled to be wise or conscious in the spending of other peoples money. This most change so that those of us who must be sustained by a handout can find a better quality of life. One that can help the planet and our fellow human beings as well.

      • says

        Hi Gary,

        It’s true, marketing is relentless! At least some parents are teaching their children new ways and I celebrate this. Wow, that’s interesting about the cap on money and assets. That seems like a bit too much control over someone’s life. Thanks for sharing this information and your thoughts.

        • says

          Hi Sandra I suspected that the cap on money and assets might be news to most people. Another way in which they control the disabled and keep them on very short leashes is by not allowing them to earn more than $65 U.S. per month. If you should do so above table than after the U.S.$65 earned they start monkeying around and find ways of making you pay for being a contributing member of society.

          All the same I’m grateful that I have anything at all including the ability to read and type. Since watching my mother go from fairly independent life within a nursing home to being unable to much of anything due to a stroke and being on a respirator a few month ago. It brings the point of impermanence in a very big way.

          Oh BTW Happy Thanksgiving to you and all y9our readers.

          • says

            Hi Gary,

            Any visit to a nursing home is definitely a wake up call. It helps you see the world in an entirely different way. I’m sorry for your mother’s suffering and hope she finds some relief.

            I’m glad you have support and the ability to read and type. You enrich our life with your words and your dedication to educating others about disability.

            Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

  5. says

    My husband and I sorted needs from wants years ago. We chose to live a very austere and simple life and have never regretted that choice. We aren’t into gift exchanges and neither are our family members and close friends.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • says

      Hi timethief – Your lifestyle is such a great inspiration. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your choices and the fact you live without regrets. I guess it’s not Thanksgiving in Canada today, but I wish you a beautiful day nevertheless.

  6. says

    Wonderful post for Thanksgiving Sandra
    my thought on abundance: To be truly aware of all the abundance you have in your life-stop for a minute and look out a window and see just how much abundance you are surrounded by.
    Happy Thanksgiving

    with love
    Suzie

    • says

      Hi Suzie,

      That’s a beautiful suggestion. It’s really been working for me lately. Sometimes when I just pause and look, I can see what a miracle it all is. Thanks for this wonderful idea. Happy Thanksgiving and love to you!

  7. says

    Happy Thanksgiving, Sandra!

    I’m very thankful for your generous friendship :-)

    Your 101 Rays of Gratitude is a wonderful read and very inspirational.

  8. says

    Thank you. It’s so nice to know you too. I appreciate the special favor you bring to personal growth and development. I know you are in Canada so I will simply wish you a beautiful day.

  9. varuni chaudhary says

    Dear Sandra,
    This thanksgiving i want to thank you and Bernie for your friendship, love and guidance.
    May you both have all happiness.
    i shall be careful to spend only on needs.
    love
    v

  10. says

    After a lovely day yesterday of sharing food and football with family, and old and new friends, my two daughters left the house this morning at 4:00am to head to the mall. I woke up just a little as I heard the front door close. Sigh.

    Abundance for me means having all five kids home yesterday. It means going up to my cabin today with the dog to spend a couple of days enjoying the snow by the creek.

    It means pausing every now and then to focus on all my blessings. When I teach my 10 Steps program, I ask everyone to write down in 60 seconds as many things as they can think of to be grateful for. Try it. Most of you will not have any problem, but if you get stuck, start right at your body. I’m thankful that my heart is beating, that I can breathe, that I can see, ….

    Most of us will still be writing at the end of 60 seconds. If we can think of that many things to be grateful for in one minute of our lives, just imagine how many blessings we have that we haven’t even thought of yet!

    I have so enjoyed all the blog posts this week on gratitude. What an uplifting week. I’m grateful for new blog friends and words of wisdom, humor, inspiration from so many sources.

    Thank you!

    • says

      Galen,

      I really enjoyed hearing about your Thanksgiving Day and your approach to gratitude. Starting with the body it’s a great approach! Our body is such a miracle and a gift.

      It has been an uplifting week, hasn’t it! I’ve read some amazing article this week and felt so much love and clarity. I’m glad it’s been good for you too. Thanks for sharing your ideas and blessings.

  11. says

    True abundance is to feel compassion towards your fellow humans, to actively share your love for life, to laugh with your partner or a friend, to build a snowman with your child(ren), to go for a walk and enjoy it whatever the weather is like. The best part is that true abundance is for FREE!

  12. says

    Sandra,
    …and I am so grateful for you, as well. (bow)

    You have such a beautiful way of helping to center me…in the words you share. And in that also, I just sense you on this journey. What a wonderful feeling that is.

    And I also just find that’s where abundance lies for me – in the relationships I have, in the taking time to really listen to my soul, in the connecting with Mother Earth…

    Today, as I read your words and let them soak in, I just feel all of this more deeply…and it is good…

    Much love to you,
    Lance

    • says

      Lance,

      This makes my heart sing: “where abundance lies for me – in the relationships I have, in the taking time to really listen to my soul, in the connecting with Mother Earth…” I really love hearing how you soak in the words. If only everyone would give themselves the space and time! Warm wishes to you.

  13. says

    Thank you for this lovely reminder, Sandra. I had a minor epiphany the other day when I was at my bank. The teller, who has known me for years, told me that I had too much in my checking account and mentioned that he would have gone out and spent it all if he had that much in his account. My mind went curiously blank when he said that — I just couldn’t think of anything I wanted to spend it on. I’m not at all wealthy by conventional standards, but I have what I need, want what I have, and have the time to enjoy my life.

    This holiday season is going to be very quiet for me. Apart from some gifts I’m still in the process of making, I’m going to be completely out of the stream of traditional shopping and gift giving. I’m really looking forward to a quiet, reflective winter.

    And like many of your other readers, I’m grateful to have found your blog!

    • says

      Ailanna,

      What a wonderful experience at the bank. I’m so happy with your sense of richness and contentment! It really helps to have examples – such as yours – of people who have a quiet holiday season and feel all the better for it. Thanks for sharing your experience here. And thanks for your appreciation too!

  14. says

    Hi Sandra, Karen’s words really did resonate for me too. I am so glad my husband and I decided to cut our purchases to the bone. We do have fun, but we prefer experiences over acquiring physical objects. We try to get rid of something (by selling it or giving it away) before buying something new. A lot of people think we are weird or poor because of this.

    We just had a talk about Christmas, and we are really scaling down. Some relatives have agreed not to exchange gifts with us at all, which is great. A bunch are getting photo albums because they don’t have many recent pictures of us. Other relatives who seem not to notice or appreciate presents are getting cards only.

  15. says

    Hi Jennifer,

    This is a beautiful “weirdness” and I hope more people will adopt it! :) Your story is a testimony as to how we can all take back control of our lives and infuse it with more joy and meaning. It’s great to hear your approach. Thanks so much.

  16. says

    Hi Sandra-Much gratitude to you and all of your readers for the inspiring words I find each time I come to your site. Thank you so very much for your mention of my site, Groovy Green Livin. As we are all knee deep in the medias push towards over consumption, I offer a few simple ways to find gifts for the people you love that benefit people in need. Happy, healthy, joyous holidays to all.

    • says

      Hi Lori,

      Welcome back from your vacation. I’m so glad you commented. I’ve updated the link to your gift article now. It’s a great one as always. Wishing you a happy holiday too.

  17. says

    Hi Sandra,

    Thanks for another enlightening and timely article.

    True abundance is gratitude for the many blessings in our lives, even the ones that came by way of adversities and hardships.

    A key part of my church’s weekly worship service is the monologue where a member shares what our pastor calls their “faith journey.” (This was called a testimony in the old days.) She gives them the scripture from which she’ll preach as a guideline, but the monologist is free to share from their lives as they wish.

    Each week as I listen to accomplished professionals share openly and freely about their upbringing, setbacks and hardships, some with abusive parents, others with absent parents, others with challenges with drugs, terminal illness and homelessness, I feel ashamed to waste even one moment of my life feeling anything less than joy.

    One of my biggest challenges is accepting “what is” as Byron Katie talks about in The Work. In one case, I realized over the last few years that the way I celebrate my holidays are changing since my kids and even grandkids are all adults. With distance, schedules and different levels of commitment, getting all of us together at one time and space is more difficult. But rather than let that reality steal my joy I’ve decided to enjoy the holidays as they unfold, rather than as I think they should be.

    This Thanksgiving, even though only 2 of my 4 adult kids came to dinner, all 3 of my grandkids came and stayed over for Black Friday. Whereas in the past no one ever wanted to accompany me to the Black Friday sales, this year my 3 grandkids were poised to rise at an ungodly hour and insisted that we go to the sales since they are now adults and have their own money. I drove them to several stores (although they all have licenses and could have gone on their own) because they wanted me with them. I felt so happy to know that I have their unconditional love. Now that is abundance.

    As for spending, they somehow are wise with their money. (They didn’t get it from my genetic makeup. I’ve had to evolve into that wisdom.) So we had fun moving through the stores, commenting on prices and mostly leaving empty-handed except for the Christmas spirit.

    Of the four things that I bought–one DVD, one top, 2 scarves and a cap–I ended up returning the CD and top yesterday. (What was I thinking spending $16.99 for the DVD “Eat, Pray, Love”? Sale indeed!)

    As I began decorating my house and tree for Christmas I get joy from the memories tied to the ornaments and enhancements that date back for many years. Some people toss old ornaments and buy new ones each year. Not me. My nativity set dates back to our first Christmas when I was expecting my first daughter (now 41.) Most of my ornaments are gift s from coworkers and Christmas projects made by my kids and grandkids in school and Sunday School. The treetop angel was made by my 29 year old when she was a Brownie. The newer ornaments are souvenirs to commemorate my travels, like the two cloisonne boots I bought in a factory in China.

    My plans for a saner holiday? I plan to enjoy my time with my family and friends at a deeper level than ever before as I thank God for their presence in my life.

    • says

      Flora,

      It was so beautiful to hear your story of the “faith journeys” at your church. That takes so much guts and I was deeply inspired to hear about how people share from their hearts and souls. Equally inspiring is the lesson you draw from this to live every moment with joy.

      We all have trouble “accepting what is”, don’t we! It’s encouraging to hear your process and how you are acclimating to changes around the holidays. What fun and sweet stories from your holidays so far! You know how to enjoy yourself and make them really meaningful. I love the way you support your grandchildren. Thank you for sharing your loving experiences of the season.