During the last couple of weeks the battle lines have been drawn. On social media and almost every place we look. 

On one side are glossy magazine covers, Pinterest pins and TV commercials urging us to make everything in our home sparkly, trendy and impeccably coordinated for the holidays. From the top of the tree to the stuff on the wall it’s dash away! dash away! away to the mall!

We are on full sensory overload! Images of perfection, tips for flawless holiday makeup, easy up-dos and the ideal little ensemble for holiday cocktail parties tantalize us at every turn. And it is all beautiful. And it makes us want it. A lot. And it is designed with one purpose in mind; to create consumption by creating discontent.

On the other side of the battlefield, looking very quiet and David-like when facing the Goliath of commerce, there is a new face. It is emerging from beneath the ruins of an over turned hamster wheel or as some call it, the hedonic treadmill of “never enough stuff”. Many now realize they have the power to jump off.

Gradually, from the edges of our culture a new movement has begun. Everything epic begins in the same way, from the fringe, almost imperceptible at first, embraced initially by a few. We see it on blogs and posts about minimalism and spirituality and embracing simplicity. YouTube videos are proliferating, speaking to the detrimental effects our excess of accumulation has on people and our planet . Messages urging us to rethink our priorities.

The Buy. Buy. Buy. mentality we have embraced for the last fifty or so years has reached a crescendo. Interestingly the more stuff we have and the bigger our homes are compared to then, our collective happiness has plunged in the opposite direction. The equation has been proofed. More stuff does not equal happiness.

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This post appeared several times last week on Facebook, sprinkled through my newsfeed from far corners of the country. It has inspired a lot of comments and from what I saw, all positive. How does it make you feel?

Like any addiction (and let’s call it what it is) it takes effort to change and even more a strong desire and even more than that,  your own personal reason why. Take a deep breath and ask yourself if all this hurry, worry and scurry are worth leaving you with less peace, less time and less joy. Deep in our soul we know the answer. Believe me I am working on it too.

I always go back to scripture for affirmation of my thinking, checking to make sure that I am headed in the right direction. Thank goodness for modern search engines. I am able to quickly find something that either supports or refutes my thoughts.

The Bible is full of references to surrendering our need for “more stuff” but Luke says it so much more eloquently in chapter 6 verse 34, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  And in 12:15, “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

My intention here is not to take the sprinkles off the cookies. I’d like to add that it isn’t necessary to throw away all your holiday décor and dress in ashes and sackcloth for that party. As with everything that is worthwhile, changes must be heartfelt and gradual to stick. For today, just take a minute before you add one more thing to your to do list and ask yourself if it will bless or burden you.

More than anything else, my Christmas wish for you is joy in small things, peace, tranquility and knowing that the best gift we ever received came to us humbly, unwrapped and lying in a manger.

Blessings to you for a Christmas that is divinely simple and simply divine.

Betty Streff

Betty Streff began her career as a customer service representative for a large corporation in Omaha. Four years later she found herself to be a farm wife in a small rural community with limited opportunities for women. After a humbling self assessment, she listed her assets as talents for sketching, sewing, and the natural ability to strike up conversations with complete strangers. Using these and her optimistic nature, she began stitching up some bibs and pillows for a craft show, who wouldn't? Over the next 25 years she became a serial entrepreneur obsessed with studying faith, spirituality, leadership, motivation, and management as she developed her businesses. Betty has spent the last few years working in corporate America in the hospitality and manufacturing world and she continues to immerse herself in the study of what makes people tick. The explosive growth in the relatively recent science of positive psychology fascinates her. Betty devours everything she can find on the subject and is especially intrigued with people who thrive no matter the circumstances and in discovering ways that happiness and optimism can be learned. She is currently exploring ways of sharing and cultivating the exciting possibilities with both individuals and businesses. She and her husband Steve have been married 45 years and are blessed with 2 incredible daughters, 2 fantastic sons-in-law and 6 amazing grandchildren.