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This is Day 24 of the 30 Days to a Debt Free Christmas Challenge
Our post today talks about How to be thankful by knowing the 4 Ways that society makes us unthankful.
Thanksgiving marks the kickoff of the Holiday season. In my book, Thanksgiving all the way through New Year's Day truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
Don't get me wrong, after New Year's Day I might complain about the long, cold winter here in upstate New York almost daily… but from late November through December, it's magical.
But am I the only one who finds a terrible irony with Thanksgiving and the shopping season? Shopping for gifts certainly isn't bad, but we have to be careful in our hearts. It is SOOO easy to become unthankful and ungrateful during this season.
Here are 4 ways that our society makes us unthankful:
“The next big thing is here” is the tagline that belongs to which electronics manufacturer?
Cue final Jeopardy music.
What is Samsung? Correct! And your wager was… YOUR SOUL.
Ok, I just took that WAY too far.
But “the next big thing is here” is great tagline, right? And it might as well be the tagline for every consumer electronics company out there. It's Samsung's way of letting you know that you don't have the cool gadget anymore. Time to upgrade… again.
And look – I can be SOOO guilty of this one. But instead of me, I'm gonna talk about my husband. (don't worry, he's ok with it) Confession time…
For about a year and a half, he had been using an 11″ Macbook Air, with a 64 GB hard drive. Since we work from home and he regularly uses photoshop, podcasting software, and video editing software, he really needed something more powerful with more space. So in January, he upgraded (a needed upgrade) to a 13″ Macbook Pro, the kind with the retina display. It was a refurbished model, so he got a good deal.
But here's where he was made to be unthankful… he had been using a 24″ external monitor up to that point with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 – so, basically a 1080p. And it was fine when he had the old computer.
But with the new one? Wow, the retina display put it to shame. The pixels were too big on that old display! So just last week, he bought a 24″ 4k monitor. Here's the deal with 4k – the resolution is now 3840 x 2160! Yes, it helps quite a bit with photo editing. But he didn't NEED it, even though he got a great deal on it (actually free using some credit card points).
In his own weakness, he was made to feel unthankful for what he had. The mere presence of something better (his Macbook retina display) changed his disposition. The old monitor which had been great up to that point suddenly became something he despised.
This happens most often with technology. But it's not just computers. Kitchen appliances are like this too… that's probably why they manufacture them to only last about 7 years now. It's not all the manufacturer's fault. They figure that you will want something better after 7 years. And they might be right.
This one is very close to my heart… more on that later.
Isn't perceived life just so much different than it was 10 years ago?
Let me ask you a question… if your kid got in trouble at school, if you got a pay reduction at work, if your home went in to foreclosure, if you realized that gained a few pounds over the past year…
…would you rush to Facebook (or Twitter or Instagram) to tell the world about it? Probably not. Sometimes you would if you were asking for help or prayers, but many of us would say nothing.
But on the other hand, if your kid made high honor roll, you got a promotion, you bought a new house or you reached your weight loss goal – then heck yes! You would rightly want to tell the world about it.
And therein lies the problem with social media. It has an inherent bias to only tell us the good. I'm not saying it's wrong; I would never blame anyone for not publicly broadcasting their life's difficulties. Nor would I blame you for publicly rejoicing over life's triumphs.
But Facebook isn't real life. And it can DEFINITELY make you unthankful if you don't view it with the right lens. Your friends whose status updates regularly show up in your news feed… that's not the entirety of their lives. All that awesome stuff you see going on – that's just what is chosen to be shown. They all have struggles and difficulties just like you.
So here's why this is so very close to my heart… I run a website with 100,000+ FB fans, as well as sizable followings on the other social media platforms. I'm not bringing this up to brag. I bring it up because as much as I try to give an honest portrayal of my life – the good and the bad, it can never be completely honest.
I get so many emails of people asking me about how I can do it all, how do I have it all together. Guess what? I don't! Not even close. I struggle as a parent, I struggle keeping my house clean, I wish I had a bigger house… I'm just like you and whatever is portrayed on social media is not real life.
I've written so much about Black Friday for the past couple weeks… what else needs to be said?
I'll just add this – the mere act of looking at sales ads will make you unthankful. Did you see that door buster deal for a 50″ TV for like $300? It only took a split second… you imagined it in your living room.
Suddenly you are less thankful for the 42″ TV currently sitting 10 feet away from you.
Video games? Kitchen gadgets? Bed sheets? Stuff you might not need, but it would be nice to have.
And then – you see stuff that you didn't even realize that you “need”. I already told you about my 4k monitor… well now you can get 4k TV's for like $500! I didn't even realize that until I read the ad scan to write this article!
So even if you don't go out and buy much stuff on Black Friday, it could still be making you unthankful. All it takes is going on Amazon or looking through the ads. You will suddenly be ungrateful for the all the awesome you already own.
My suggestion? If you can help it and you truly don't need to buy anything on Black Friday, then don't even open the ads.
Is it it just me, or are fashion trends and styles changing faster than ever?
A few years ago, everyone had “hip hugger” jeans. Then everyone had skinny jeans. Now, “mom jeans” are back in style? I can't keep up! How often do I need to replace my jeans?!
How about glasses? Nerd glasses are IN. Big ones. Sometimes they don't even have prescription lenses! Or lenses at all! Purely a fashion statement. But like 7 years ago, they weren't mainstream yet.
Look, I get that fashion always changes. I try to keep up myself.
But why is this happening so quickly? I blame it almost completely on social media – and if I could single out one platform in particular, it would have to be Instagram. Designers and manufacturers know that they will make more money from you if they can increase the pace that the trends change. Makes sense right?
So they pay people with large Instagram followings big bucks to take selfies of themselves in whatever new clothing or accessory that they wish to market. And it works.
But when it changes so fast like it does today, just how often do we have to be made to be unthankful for our current wardrobe and accessories?
Let's take a global worldview, just being able to have a different outfit for each day of the week means that you have an AMAZING wardrobe!
We can't just completely black out those things I've listed above. They are part of our culture. They are being shoved down our throats everyday. But we can decide to not let them make us unthankful.
The easiest way to do that is to focus on what you TRULY are thankful for. Seriously, just take 5 minutes and make a mental list. Here's what I am thankful for:
1. A warm house, even if it's tight sometimes.
2. Family who loves me, even though we don't always see eye-to-eye.
3. The ability to buy gifts for loved ones.
4. A healthy family and beautiful children.
Whatever your religious beliefs, we all know what the “true meaning” of the season is, and if we've wandered to far from that true meaning, SunTrust wants to help you find your way back.
That's why they've created this awesome Holiday Guide to help keep you grounded with what matters most. You've also got to check out their Holiday Resource Center and Holiday Budget Tool. There are tons of great ways to have an amazing holiday season without breaking the bank.
Let's be thankful and have a great Holiday season. Chances are, you've got it pretty good.
The holidays are for focusing on moments that matter. But for many Americans, financial stress can get in the way. This year, you can make small changes that make a big difference for your financial well-being.
In this holiday planning guide, you’ll find tips for getting organized and making a plan for holiday spending so you can feel confident in your ability to stay on track with your budget. You’ll see how other Americans are shopping, traveling, celebrating and giving in ways that make the holidays cost less, but mean more.
For more holiday planning advice visit holiday resources
Meaningful spending made easy with a budgeting tool to help you make a plan and stay on track with your holiday spending. Download here.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.