Thanksgiving, gratitude, and wiser holiday shopping

Black Friday rolls toward us in a tsunami of spending.

tsunami wave with a dollar sign
Tsunami of spending

But there is a way we can resist the onslaught of commercialism with our sanity and our wallets intact: gratitude.

Remembering all we are grateful for

If we are mindful of all the blessings in our lives, we are better able to resist the temptation to spend too much.

table set for Thanksgiving dinner
Counting our blessings

In his column “How to Defeat the Impulse Buy” in the New York Times, David DeSteno discusses his study on impulse buying. His findings reveal a lot about our spending habits.

Willpower alone isn’t enough

Willpower alone doesn’t help curb impulse spending, according to DeSteno, and in fact relying on willpower alone will lead to failure. Marketers have perfected the time-pressured sales pitch of Black Friday and the holiday season in general.

ad for Black Friday saying entire store is 30 percent off
Time-pressured marketing on Black Friday

Instead of relying on willpower, we need to cultivate gratitude.

Gratitude leads to what DeSteno calls “financial patience,” the ability to give up the immediate gratification of a purchase today in exchange for a purchase in the future. Study participants who felt grateful had twice as much financial patience. The takeaway for us is that financial patience can help us resist the temptation of those moonlight madness deals.

Cultivating gratitude can help us stick to a budget

Being mindful of all we have to be grateful for can help us stick to our budgets. And it can restore our ability to think clearly in the face of amazing deals, never-this-low prices, and limited quantities available.

This year when I go out shopping I plan to take a gratitude list. What about you? Will you give this a try?



Tracking the neighborhood wildlife: My photo safari

One of my favorite adventures is a photo safari. I’m on a tight budget, so I book my safari close to home — very close. I take a walk in my neighborhood, cell phone or camera in hand, and document the local wildlife.

What I found right in front of me the other day was fascinating.

close up of praying mantis head
Anybody recognize this guy?

Continue reading “Tracking the neighborhood wildlife: My photo safari”

Who are you grateful for?

One of the ways I’ve found to live a healthier, more mindful life is to reflect on what I’m grateful for. As I mentioned in an earlier post, keeping a gratitude journal helps me focus on the people and things I am lucky to have in my life.

Today I’m thankful for the ways my sisters help and support me. I can always count on them, whenever I’m teetering on the edge of hopelessness, to reel me back in. I wrote about them yesterday in my gratitude journal.

My gratitude journal entry about my sisters
My gratitude journal entry about my sisters

No matter what I do, my sisters still love me. And it hasn’t always been easy. Growing up I was the bossy older sister. (Actually, sometimes I still am!) But somehow they’ve gotten past all my obnoxious behavior and now they’re my own personal cheering squad. And I’m theirs.

For some reason I can no longer recall, we used to call each other “piggy,” which wasn’t an insult but rather a term of endearment. And we spoke our own piggy dialect (not pig Latin), which involved bizarre accents and inside jokes. Sometimes we still call each other piggy.

three cartoon pigs
The Piggy Sisters

My sisters live thousands of miles away, but we’ve managed to stay close in the ways that matter. It didn’t happen automatically, of course. We had to work at it. We had to stay in touch. We had to talk openly and honestly.

And we had to appreciate each other.

30 words. That’s all I wrote in my journal. It’s amazing how powerful the simple act of writing something down is. I can’t wait to call my sisters this weekend.

Who are you grateful for?

When was the last time you told them?