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To get spending in check, ‘Be Thankful For What You Got’

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William DeVaughn reminds us to be thankful for what you gotThanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because it involves eating a ton of turkey. What’s really cool about it is it’s a celebration of gratitude, one of the most noble of human impulses — and also a useful tool for getting your act together financially.

In my experience, the best way to quiet a craving for stuff that’s bigger, better and newer is spending some time concentrated on appreciating what I have.

There’s some research to back this up. A 2006 paper in the Journal of Happiness Studies by University of Miami researchers found evidence that people who tend toward gratitude were less likely to score highly on measures of materialism, especially when it came to the belief that material possessions lead to happiness.

But when you’re surrounded by wealthy people who seem to be thoroughly enjoying their money, which is especially the case down here in Bentley-infested South Florida, that can be easier said than done. I find that giving the William DeVaughn soul classic “Be Thankful for What You Got” a few spins can help. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac/ gangsta white walls, TV antennas in the back

You may not have a car at all/ But remember, brothers and sisters, you can still stand tall

Just be thankful/ for what you got

His ode to over-the-top ’70s Caddies and the virtues of gratitude may seem a little jarring at first, but it’s very American (we are large, we contain multitudes). After all, Black Friday, a day dedicated to grabbing all you can at your local big-box store, comes right on the heels of a holiday dedicated to being grateful for what you’re fortunate enough to have already.

We’re constantly surrounded by marketing messages (heck, there’s an ad right next to this post) telling us in elaborate detail how much better our lives will be if we buy this or that new product. DeVaughn reminds us here that although those things may be genuinely cool and impressive to others, our personal worth is tied up in bigger things, and gratitude is a good way to connect with that.

What do you think? How do you encourage gratitude in your own life?

(Photo: Flickr user That Hartford Guy)

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4 Responses to “To get spending in check, ‘Be Thankful For What You Got’”

  1. Sometime last year I was without a job for quite some time. Hard times but they afforded me time for reflection. Its during while seeking inspiration that I stumbled upon this quote by the Buddha, “Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship”
    Am back to better days and each day am greateful for being in good health, having what I have however small (I know it could be much worse) and having the people I love around me. Those come free or very cheap but they matter most :)
    Happy thanksgiving.

  2. Claes Bell says:

    Hey Simon,
    Great quote. Thanks for your comment …I’m glad you found a way to take a really unfortunate set of circumstances and get something positive out of them. I’ve often thought that going through some financial hard times as a kid has always helped me be more grateful for what I’ve got. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well and thanks for reading.

  3. Valerie Rind says:

    I love the irony that “the ad right next to this post” is for a credit card.

  4. IndianMoney says:

    Truly one of the greatest methods to control wants.Not being satisfied with what one has is the main cause of people falling in debt.One wants something takes out his credit card and is soon in debt.Being satisfied with what one has truly goes a long way in solving this problem.Spending less than one earns should be the motto.


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