Thanksgiving is a time for us to reflect and express gratitude for all the good things in our lives. Our social feeds are flooded with nothing but “#blessed” posts. It’s all conviviality and good vibes. That is, until Black Friday rolls around, and the abrupt shift of focus towards conspicuous consumption and shopping stampedes at Bed Bath & Beyond.

We’re not suggesting not to indulge in it at all. Rather, like so many things in life, it’s about finding the balance and making mindful choices about how we spend our resources. If we just take things in perspective, there will be plenty more sales to come during the holiday season and then some, so there’s no need to let FOMO set in.

When making plans on how you’ll spend your money and time, ask yourself: What is the feeling behind it? What am I really looking for? What need will this fill, and at what expense? Will countless hours of battling traffic, standing in long lines, and racking up credit card debt be time well spent?

According to Tony Robbins, we all have six universal needs, and it’s no surprise that it takes far more than material things for them to be met. They’re listed here, along with some ideas to truly fulfill them in a real and meaningful way:

Certainty/Comfort: We have a need for security and safety and it’s important we don’t take for granted the significance of a roof over our head and food on the table. We’re lucky to have both and more, so find comfort in ways that you’ve neglected lately.  Book an overdue massage, recalibrate in the vibrations of a sound bath, decompress in a float tank, or make an extra deposit into your savings account.

Uncertainty/Variety: Another holiday that is predictably just like the one before is uninspiring. Shake things up and trade routine for some fun and spontaneity. With this extra day off, awaken the sense of adventure inside of you that’s dying to come out to play. Do something that scares you a little, or a lot. Go on a last minute road trip to a locale without a store in sight, take up your rock climbing friend on their offer to show you the ropes. Just say yes.

Significance: At some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced how chasing happiness through conspicuous consumption or other outside means leaves us feeling empty. Our sense of esteem comes from knowing that we are doing our best to become the best version of ourselves, and not relying on external sources of validation or approval. LOVE YOURSELF today and every day. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself some credit. Because we can’t give these things to others that we don’t have ourselves.

Love and Connection:  Spend less money today so you can spend more time. With your family. Your friends. Your kids. Your lover. Your pets. Make plans and surprise visits. Scrolling through social media feeds and liking their posts doesn’t count. Get some real life face time, and if they’re on the other side of the world, call them and really listen.

Growth: Read that book. Make good on your scheduled workout. Take that workshop you’ve been eyeing. Exercise your risk muscle by doing something that’s outside of your comfort zone, like asking that hot guy out to do something, anything but shopping.

Contribution: Let stuff go and pay it forward. Most of us have more stuff than we can even keep track of. Now is a perfect time to donate your stuff, and even better, your time. There are some amazing local organizations where you can do both.  Dress for Success provides services to empower women to achieve economic independence. They’ve served close to 5,000 women in the Greater LA area since 2009 and counting. Those clothes that are taking up space in your closet can be put to better use with these women. Volunteer service shifts for career coaches and personal stylists (to help women look their best for upcoming job interviews) is a gift that has the power to literally change someone’s life. DWC (Downtown Women’s Center) is the only organization in Los Angeles dedicated to addressing the needs of women overcoming poverty and homelessness in Skid Row. All donations directly benefit the women of the center. 

How you plan to spend your money, time, and attention can be in line with the things you value the most in life if you are intentional about it. With what really matters to you? With what makes you happy? With what lights you up? We’re willing to bet it’s not stuff.

Here’s to being grateful to “live it,” today, and every day.

- Joy Bitano of Aloha Spreader. Follow Joy here on Instagram.