Monday, November 23, 2009

How Much Is Enough?

This time of year we're given a paradox: Thanksgiving is the season for gratitude yet before the turkey is even cold we're bombarded by advertisers telling us we can't make it through the holiday celebrations without buying things. Lots of things, and the more the better.

So we're supposed to be grateful but not so grateful that we don't want lots more.

Which brings me to the subject of contentment. I'm not one to say that there is virtue in always being satisfied with who or what we are because that's what sets us apart as human beings. We want to do better, to be more, to reach higher, to discover new things and strive for greatness but there is a difference between being complacent and being content.

Complacency inspires laziness by convincing you that doing better isn't important or that being more is worthless. Contentment is the ability to ignore what someone may be telling you need so you can focus on what's truly necessary. Being content is to look at the place where you live and not become agitated if it isn't decorated in the latest style, it's being able to accept what you've been given and not look at what your neighbor has instead.

It's the perfect week to share an article I recently read on Being Content with Our Homes and it could apply to so many of the toys and treats we're supposed to desperately crave nowadays. Electronics, vacations, clothing, fame, prestige and cars--not just homes.

If we learn nothing else from the economic destruction we've experienced this year let it be contentment. To be happy with the abundance we've been given and not to exceed our means looking for more because to be truly grateful starts with being content--you can't feel gratitude until you're content with what you've been given.

Sponsored by Pak Naks--decorate your stuff!

33 comments:

Blessed said...

An excellent post. Only in contentment is true happiness found.

Nancy Astudillo from 2MO said...

Here! Here! I agree. I think I'll let my teens read this and we can discuss it around the kitchen table come supper. :) Will make for an
interesting discussion...

Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side said...

So true. Thank you for pointing out what is most important in life.

Jolanthe said...

Amen. :)

Nate and Stacia said...

Nate and I were just discussing this yesterday-well said!

Anonymous said...

Pertty much what my mother said. Never move into that home until it is completed. My childhood home still doesn't have the kitchen finished. It looks it but there are cabinets and a dinning nook that isn't there. The space is used but not as it was intended.
I still love that kitchen best.

thediaperdiaries said...

Ugh, struggle, struggle, struggle with this. If only my house had this, this and this I would be happy. It is an ugly monster that God constantly has to battle with when it comes to me. Thanks for the reminder.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

I totally get this because it describes perfectly how I feel about our home. It is not my dream house, by any means. The yard is too small. The carpet needs to be replaced. The kitchen is dated. The basement was a DIY project by the previous owner and man, it SHOWS.

This list goes on and on. There are tons of things I would love to change about this place, but really, overall, I am truly content here. The thought of living here throughout my kids' school years would be fine by me.

I will remember this post the next time I bitterly complain about our carpet.

Miche said...

I loved this.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Excellent post. If nothing else good comes from the recession perhaps Americans shifting their values to consume less and focus on what really matters will benefit society and the environment.

Wanda said...

After a 4 month job loss last year....my famiy completely understands contentment.

Not one family member (I have 3 teens) made a wish list for Christmas. Everyone was so thankful to have a home to live in. We came very close to losing everything.
God protected us and our little nest. We have a totally different perspective on "stuff" now.

Great post!

Godlonton Family Adventures said...

That was a great post...thanks. A great read for this morning...giving me lots to think about!

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Last Christmas my SIL embroidered a beautiful little saying for each of her siblings. It reads, "Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have." It really helps to have that reminder to read every day!

Heart2Heart said...

Michelle,

I think we all need to look at our families and begin to wonder do we really need more stuff or can we be content on what we have? Too often advertisers lead us to believe our lives would be so much different if we only had "X", yet many of us would be surprised to find that had we not seen ad for product X, we would continue on in this world.

Besides, food, clothing, and a place over our heads, everything else is truly an indulgence!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Carrie said...

Wow, great post that you linked to - very convicting to me! We live in a trailer provided through my husband's job, so contentment can be difficult for me at times! :)

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

What is most frustrating to me is that our economy is based on consumerism, so if you don't buy more than you did last year, the economy doesn't grow. So what is best for you as a person, or for your family, is not what's best for the economy as a whole. If no one spends beyond their means, we'll all lose jobs. Very frustrating.

That's a big part of what's wrong with our country.

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

Great insights.

I find the older I get, the easier it is to rest in contentment. Every year that passes is a year where I like how we do things more and more. It's not fancy and it's light years from being over-the-top, but it's cozy and it's US.

Alison Kelley said...

Great post! We are trying to explain this very thing to the kids and to also help them see how lucky we all are to have each other, and our good health. To be thankful for what we have and what we are, to be thankful and happy for other too.

Kara said...

GREAT and timely post. Forwarding this on to some friends - everyone could use this reminder!

Danielle a.k.a Yellie said...

So true. I felt a little sting by this post because lately I've been looking around at my home and wishing I could re-decorate and change things, when I have a perfectly fine home. It provides warmth and shelter, is filled with more than we need and most importantly, is a place where my family loves each other and has and is creating memories together. How in the world could I not be content with that? Just a great reminder to really examine what we truly have and to be thankful for it. God bless!

Daisy said...

Beautifully said. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family.

Lei said...

Thanks for the reminder Michelle!

Allegria said...

Loved your post, as I did the link. We always joke that our house is easy to find because it is seriously the only eyesore on the street. It's an old Victorian that we started to redo, up until my husband lost his job a year and a half ago and is STILL out of work. Now it stands with it's insulation plugs (which I am grateful for because the house is sooo much warmer and we're saving tons on heating bills) on the ugly insulbrick siding, no real floors (but there is subfloor, which I'm grateful for because we have something to walk on, and it's safe for the kids), and no trim (which I'm grateful for because...well...frankly, I can't think of any reason to be grateful for the ugliness of ragged edges around windows, doors, and floors!). It's easy to see other people with their well appointed homes and nice furnishings and cars and be a bit envious.

Then I think about our mortgage, and how low it is, and how it's a good thing it's low, and our house is warmly insulated, because otherwise we would never be able to survive this job loss as we have. And I'm glad we have a car and that we've been able to keep it maintained against all odds.

I never thought I'd be in a situation like this, but when a person is placed in a position where things are tight and you HAVE to keep things simpler, it puts things into perspective, and you see what's important and find other ways to make things special that don't involve consumerism, but rather time and charity and service.

Lovely post.

Nanette said...

Great post and reminder as we come upon the holiday season. I really enjoy your blog.

Lori said...

Do you think my mom will take any of this to heart?

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Be content with such things as you have. Wonderful life lesson. One I'm still working on.

mamabearscubhosue said...

you're smart and stuff. :)
great post, so true!
Happy Thanksgiving

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

You've said it so perfectly. Contentment can be elusive, though. Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!

Stephanie said...

Well-stated. Gratitude and contentment are two qualities that I sincerely hope to pass on to my girls.

stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) said...

So very true. I am going to try and focus on being more content with what we have.

Thank you!

~3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

Very well said!!

Catherine at Frugal Homemaker Plus said...

So true! I'm linking this on my Monday Morning Mention this Monday. :)

adrian said...

great post. Thanks for the reminder