Shopping for Contentment

I never thought I’d be thanking God for removing me from a land full of Targets. Target is my kryptonite… especially this time of year. When I was first living on my own, I’d head into the store with the sole purpose of purchasing something like toilet paper (most likely after a close call that morning with the roll getting dangerously close to the cardboard). I’d barely make it through the threshold before my eyes (and my cart) would wander away from the direction of said toilet paper and down the dollar aisle, then the home wares (who knew that they made salt and pepper shakers in 42 varieties… I must buy them all!!!) and then of course I would need to peruse the clothing area for that plaid shirt or those yoga pants for working out. An hour later, I’d be checking out with a hundred dollars worth of “stuff” I didn’t know I needed until Target told me that I did!

After getting home, I’d head to the restroom… and realize… I forgot the toilet paper.

***

Thankfulness can be easy in comparison to contentment. I find it quite easy to list the things I am grateful for, but it’s a constant battle to tell my spirit that I don’t need {just a little} more.

This struggle is especially real around the holiday season.  This time of year we test the limits of our elastic waistbands as we indulge in the special tastes of the season. We can hibernate in our dens, binge watching our favorite shows like nobody’s business. More than ever, we are bombarded with wish-lists, adverts, and sales that are meant to make even the penny pincher salivate.  When is enough, enough?

There are a few driving factors I see in this frantic consumption.

  1. Scarcity– I have kicked myself more than once, eyeing something like a sweater on sale, or that winnowing stack of fudge, only to have it run out of stock before I got a taste or to take it home. When British Airlines told their customers that they would no longer be running their twice a day route from London to New York, suddenly their sales of that flight skyrocketed. Because it was limited, suddenly people wanted it more. I know for me, and those holiday treats, that fear of scarcity can morph into overindulgence.
  2. Time sensitivity– My mom and I used to laugh at Macy’s “One Day Only” sales that seemed to last a week. Though the title of the sale was woefully inaccurate, it was effective in creating a sense of urgency, like if you don’t hop on this deal now, you’re going to regret it later. With Black Friday and Semi Annual sales, for some reason, it can create a propensity to buy more of things you maybe didn’t want or need, for a fear that maybe you will regret not having it when the deal is over.
  3. Lazy brain”- Finally, sometimes decisions of consumption are more indecisions. Robotically we can fill up our plates, our shopping carts, or let the Netflix stream one more episode as the time slips by. Our time can be sneakily consumed by social media, and we lose out one doing the things that truly will bring joyful memories.

 

As I write, this, yes, my Old Navy and Erin Condren shopping carts are sitting there with deals that I frantically threw into my online cart. I am guilty of this over-consumption on many levels as I lounge in my stretchy yoga pants (bought on impulse at Target). My computer is currently dinging at me with email alerts reminding me that I have things in my cart that need to be purchased … as I sit here trying to write about contentment.  I know how to be thankful, but how do I teach myself to be content?

  1. Need vs. Want– Your eyes are bigger than your stomach. It’s beneficial to your health (& wallet) to access what are your true needs for yourself before you get distracted by what others try to convince you that you need. Many times you will find yourself filled with less whether it’s food, shopping or time spent on social media, reading news articles or binging Netflix.
  2. Declutter– There was a recently popular book called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Mari Kon. It was a great read about all that we consume and how to minimize our possessions while increasing our happiness by filtering your collected things with the question “Does it bring you joy? Or does it fill space?” I enjoyed the read and the process as I became more aware of those impulse purchases (and decisions) that just took up space, but did not bring joy.
  3. Sleep on it– Okay the one day sales make it hard to do this, but the key here is to wait. In high school and college when my budget was tighter than my pants on Thanksgiving, my friends wanted to go to the mall and I would choose to “pre-shop”. I was committed to window shopping, mentally taking note of what caught my eye. If I still really wanted it the next day, I could go to the mall and make that purchase. If not, I didn’t waste my resourced on something that would be forgotten in the back of the closet.
  4. Make a list– My husband makes grocery lists; my tendency is to shop intuitively. Both of us forget stuff, either because items didn’t make it on the list, or because I didn’t bother making one to begin with. A commodity that is most frequently lost is my time. We often make checklists for grocery shopping, and even for our calendar. However, making a list on how you want to spend your time (traveling, invested in friendships, education, learning to underwater basket-weave…) will make you more intentional about those moments that turn into your days, years, and life.

***

After Thanksgiving dinner was over, guests had left, and we were cleaning the kitchen, I found myself ravenous. I complained to my husband, “I really should be this hungry; I ate way more than I needed today; I don’t understand why I’m not full!”

 

“Maybe you’re not hungry, but you’re thirsty. Sometimes when you’re dehydrated, it manifests itself as hunger.”

 

Man did that hit me hard. Not because of the water comment; my husband notoriously pushes it… he’d have me wear a Camelback 24/7 around the house if he could. But it was the idea that I wasn’t satisfied because I was trying so desperately to fill myself with something different than what my body needed, which left me feeling awful and still empty. My cravings were a twisted symptom of the reality of my thirst. Maybe struggles with contentment arise from trying to fill ourselves with the wrong things.

In that moment of conviction, my mind went back to the age old story of the Woman at the Well. She offers a stranger a drink from her bucket, but he explains that anyone who drinks water from that will be thirsty over and over again. However, the water he offers will satisfy, and those who drink from his well will never be thirsty again.

The process of sanctification is making us more like Christ and what he wants for us. It is a transformation of our hearts and a change in our thought process. I’m not perfect but being perfect by the One who is.

So what I really WANT this holiday season, is for my heart to long for what I need, to pursue what truly gives joy, and to prioritize my time and efforts on what’s important!

Many Blessings,

kenzie-from-gumptiongrace-com

One thought on “Shopping for Contentment

  1. Anonymous says:

    Kenzie, Thank you for sharing your insight s and wisdom ! Thanks for your thoughts as we head into the Christmas season….. it’s all about focusing on what matters most and who matters most in our lives ! Love You! Miss You!
    Blessings, Aunt Marni

    Like

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