Welcome to the season of dissatisfaction. Unwrap your presents and prepare to be disappointed. You received a sweater rather than that IPhone 6s, car, Ps4, 75 inch 4k TV, and that new best friend you’ve been wanting.
We live in a world built around selling us on the fact that we’re not happy. The internet itself is, often times, just a tool to make us covet and therefore buy more. Facebook makes millions (4.5 million just last quarter) off being a platform to help advertisers target you with things more likely to make you dissatisfied. YouTube plays you the ads that Google’s algorithms have determined are going to make you want more than you currently have.
In the age of the internet Proverbs 27:20 rings truer than ever before. “Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” Pinterest, Instagram, and the hundreds of other boutiques, streaming services, and deal sites are money-making testimonies to the truth of those words. Our eyes – our desires – are never satisfied by getting more.
During this holiday season I don’t want us to buy the lie that having more stuff is going to bring us satisfaction. Satisfaction isn’t something that we purchase or stumble into. Satisfaction is a discipline; something that takes the same kind of practice that a sport or instrument or new language does. Our ability to be satisfied is a reflection of our ability to engage fully in the moment with the thing or person that we’re interacting with. It’s a product of giving thanks. In a world where technology is training us to be only partially engaged, and marketing is more and more effectively pushing away thanksgiving, it takes serious engage and give thanks.
G.K. Chesterton said, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”
The Apostle Paul wrote to his protege Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6)
Let’s take intentional steps in these next two weeks leading up to Christmas and into the new year to train ourselves for satisfaction and contentment. Here are a couple ways that I plan to do so. Will you join me?
1.Cut out satisfaction-suckers.
Over the last year or so I’ve gotten in the habit of checking a couple deal sites and apps far too frequently throughout the day. It’s led to me getting a lot of really great deals on things that we really don’t need. In order to practice the discipline of satisfaction I’m committing to looking at those sites only once a day, and even then not until the evening so that I don’t start my day by cultivating covetousness. Maybe for you it’s home improvement or cooking shows. Whatever it is, cut out the things that suck your satisfaction.
2.Engage fully with what you’re doing.
Shut off the phone during dinner. Get in a deep conversation and get to know someone better. Set the phone aside and watch the movie or show with full attention. Get lost in a book. Turn off the radio and observe what you’re driving by. Engage fully. Appreciate what is and what you do have by experiencing it completely.
3.Give away what you’re not using
Do as Chesterton suggests and start desiring less by giving away things that you have that you’re not using. Have some clothes you never wear? Give them to a friend or donate them. DVDs on your shelf that you haven’t watched in years? Give them away. Extra coats in the closet? Find someone who needs one and give it to them.
4.Speak thanks for what you have
Take an inventory of the things that you have and speak out thanks for them. Thank the person who gave them to you, even if it was years ago. Thank the God who created the things. Write out what you’re thankful for and come back to it periodically.
Paul told Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” Let’s not settle for anything less than the contentment and satisfaction that come in Christ this Christmas. Don’t buy into the foolish belief that more of the same new, shiny, and expensive will satisfy. Let’s take the time to practice and train for satisfaction here in 2015 and beyond.