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COMPARING YOURSELF TO YOUR NEIGHBORS? BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE!

Typically the holidays help us to realize how lucky we are or how unlucky we are.  This is the time of year when people start giving and helping others.  It is also the time when people are asking and seeking help.  Once the Holidays are over, it seems like we all go back to our daily routines and we forget to be gracious to one another. We forget that giving should not take place 2 weeks out of the year, but it should be a daily experience. 

We also forget to be thankful for what we have.  We see other parents buying their kids hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars worth of gifts. We see husbands getting their wives expensive jewelry.  We see people consume expensive products.  Sometimes we might even splurge and buy ourselves something nice. Naturally, we want our kids to have the best things and the best lives, but over spending will poison them and your bank account.  Kids tend to compare their gifts to their friends and then come home and share that information with you.  I have been in this spot and it is hard to listen to your child think he/she got cheated because they did not get better stuff.  It is our job to teach them to be thankful for what they have.

I always feel like people use the Holidays to compete and/or show off.  We live in a world where we are judged heavily on three things:

The clothes we wear/ our appearance The size and nicety of our house The kind of car we drive

I can hear it now, "I don't judge people like that." When was the last time you looked at a car with rust on it and thought to yourself, "That person must have a lot of money." My guess is never.  We base our assumptions of people based on what they possess.  As a result, we become competitive because we want to be viewed successful.  Here is a secret, 76% of people live paycheck to paycheck.  Some because they may not have been as lucky as some, but most live this way because they over consume. The point is, most of those people are living beyond their means.  They have a wine taste on a beer budget.  Nonetheless, we are wired to compete and be better. We become jealous or maybe even angry at what others have. We begin to think things are unfair or we have failed to make our lives great.  Of course we all want to drive a sweet ride, have a HUGE house to entertain, and look good.  We want to be the person that people look at and say, "They must be doing well." If you continually compare yourself to others, you will never get ahead.  You will never see the beauty in your own life.

 I have always been competitive and a comparing person.  I took it personally if someone did better than me at anything. I took it personally if anyone out worked me.  I always looked at what others had and wanted it.  I put myself and my family in a "butt load" of debt because of it.  I wanted to live like a high roller, but did not have the means to do it.  I have learned that instead of comparing the success of others, we should be proud of them.  We should be first in line to acknowledge that they have done well.  We should learn from them and most importantly be thankful for them.  We should also be thankful for what we have. What we have worked for.  What I learned: When you spend all your energy comparing and all your money upgrading to things you cannot afford, you have just downgraded your quality of life.

6 REASONS YOU SHOULD BE THANKFUL:

1. Are you alive? Every day we wake up is another opportunity to do good.  We should be thankful that we are given another day to spend with those we love. Even if our circumstances aren't the greatest, we should be thankful we have the next day to make them better.  We all get grumpy, anxious, upset, etc., but things can always be worse.  It is easy to get stuck in a rut and think there is nothing good in the world for us, but in reality we get to open our eyes every morning and start a new day.  Make the best of each day. Forget about yesterday and look forward to the next. Be thankful you get to live another day! 2. People in your life There are people in our lives that we should be thankful for.  Whether it is our parents, friends, neighbors, etc. We get to live one life and the people we encounter will have more influence on us than any car, house, or clothes. Most of us have some form of support system in our lives. We may sometimes get frustrated with those people.  We may go for long stints without seeing them, but I bet most of those people would bail us out of trouble in a second, or at least try.  Most of our experiences that we remember are with people, so be thankful for the people in you keep in your life. 3. Ability When I was coaching, I often tried to remind my players that they might not like some of the hard work that goes into practice and striving for excellence.  As with most young men, they would get lazy and start to give up. I had to remind them that there are people with disabilities that would give just about anything to be able to run up and down the football field or basketball court. Most of us have a skill or something we are good at, or we have the ability to work hard to be good at something.  If you can get out of bed, walk, run, talk, etc. you should be thankful you have those abilities.  Life is not always grand, but if you have the ability to make your life better you should be thankful for that.

4.  It is okay to drive and love 'ol rusty (aka your car). You might not like your car. You might stand out in a crowd because you drive a crappy car. You might even be the person people look at and think you are poor.  My wife drives a 2003 Trailblazer with over 150k on it. Oh yeah, and it has rust! Ol Rusty has transported my wife and kids for the past five years with little issue.  We actually downgraded from a brand new Equinox to this car.  We chose this path to save money and get out of debt.  Now we pay cash for vehicles. It is not the nicest looking 'whip' on the planet, but it is functional, safe, economical, paid for and rusty! It keeps us warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We have tried to care for it like it is hot off the lot.  Our car isn't pretty and sometimes we get the "you're poor" look, but we are thankful it gets us from point A to point B and keeps us safe. We could upgrade and go into debt to fit in, but we choose to save our money and pay cash.  We refuse to live paycheck to paycheck because of a car payment. Therefore, we are thankful for ol rusty. 5. I always buy the sickest jeans........from Walmart! If you haven't learned about me I am a cheapskate.  My wife and friends will vouch for that.  I do not like to spend.  I am also not much of a consumer, but when it comes to clothes and fashion I fit in with the like of Loius Vaton and Calvin Klien.  Actually, my wife has to match my shirts, ties, belts, etc because I am not a fashionista.  I shop at Walmart. I buy the pants on sale for 9.99 and I do not care what kind they are.  I am thankful for them. I am thankful I can buy these jeans.  I can afford 40.00 plus jeans for myself, but I refuse to.  I see people who spend thousands on clothes each year so they can keep up with their friends or the fashion of the time.  I am thankful that I can buy clothes to wear. I am thankful for those clothes. I am thankful we can buy my kids clothing to keep them warm, even if they are not name brand swag.  So before you worry about spending thousands keeping up with the times, just be thankful you are able to buy any clothes at all. Some people do not even have that! 6. My house is bigger and better than yours! My house kicks ass! It is a 1700 sq ft one level modular that sits 100 yards from the river on 6 acres.  The carpet is stained, we have sweet formica counter tops, the grout in our tile is off white, and our toilets clog too often! But this house works for us.  We love it, we love where we live and we can afford it.  People are fixated on large, nice houses.  We envy those who have them. Many of those people have worked hard to earn it. We want to have one ourselves, but before you compare your life to theirs.   The size of your house doesn't matter. The upgrades in your house do not matter.  Does your house serve its purpose for you and your family?  You have a place to call home. You have a place you can go to stay warm. Be thankful for it!

I am not saying you should settle.  You should strive to drive the car of your dreams, live in the house of your dreams, and buy the clothes of your dreams, but be patient and spend wisely.  In the meantime, be thankful for everything you currently have.

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