Get a Real Good Start to a New Year: 1 Foundational Secret to all the Other Secrets of a Good Life

Five years ago, Ruth Soukup and her husband reached a make-it-or-break-it moments in their marriage. Her spending was out of control, and they had been fighting about money nonstop. Knowing something had to give, they agreed on a strict budget, and Ruth began writing her blog, simply as a way to hold herself accountable. Little did she know that the journey of learning to live well on less would ultimately change her life. In her new book, Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, Ruth shares—with brutal honesty and the wisdom of someone who has been there–practical ideas for making real and lasting changes to your personal goals, home, and finances.

by Ruth Soukup

As a friend, a woman, a writer, a mother, I’m constantly tempted to compare myself to others.

I’ll see someone doing well and think, Why are they so much better than me?

I’ll read a thought-provoking or insightful article and wonder, Why can’t I think of that?

But I don’t stop there.

I begin questioning everything I am doing, second-guessing my own path, my own content, my own self-worth. 

Suddenly everything I do, or dream up, or write, is garbage and I might as well quit altogether.

Pathway of quiet lights in the snow.








Your temptation to compare might look different than mine, but chances are it leaves you feeling just as inadequate.

Perhaps it is the other women in your Bible study. They all seem so on top of things. They always read the entire book right on schedule and come prepared with a whole list of thought-provoking questions and intelligent insights.

You, on the other hand, usually only end up finding time to read the first two or three chapters, instead relying on the detailed book reviews you find on to have even the faintest understanding of the theme. Most of the evening is spent frantically praying that no one bothers to ask your opinion, and every month you wonder why you can’t seem to pull yourself together.

The important thing to remember is that another person’s success or talent doesn’t negate our own. Romans 12:6 tells us that “we have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”

No two people will walk the exact same path, and nothing someone else has will fulfill us if we are not already filled. Our job is to keep our eyes on our own path, then walk it to the very best of our ability.

Discontentment can sneak up on us so quickly, often before we even realize it is happening.

Something doesn’t go exactly our way, and suddenly we are wishing the whole world was different.

I especially see this in my kids, who can be perfectly satisfied one minute, then begging for something new the next.

I have found that it helps both them and me to have daily conversations about the blessings in our lives and the things we are grateful for.

We call it our Attitude of Gratitude. Philippians 4:4, 6 – 7  encourages: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! . . . Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It is easy to bring our concerns and requests before God. Sometimes we treat prayer like a fast-food restaurant, barking out our order so we can get in and out and be done. Uh, yeah, okay, God . . . I’ll take some grace, blessings, and a double side of patience today. Oh, and why don’t You throw in some healing for good measure.

We forget — or at least I do — that we must also be intentional about thanking God for what He has done in our lives and in the lives of others.

Taking the time to consciously list all the specific ways in which we have been blessed can’t but help our perspective.

An attitude of continual gratitude is the fastest way to chase away that green-eyed beast.

There is a strange wonder that happens the minute we stop comparing our lives to those we perceive as having more, and instead begin intentionally appreciating all that we really have.

We just tend to take all that basic, boring stuff for granted, but chances are we have all been blessed with gifts that many people don’t have.

When we open our hearts just enough to see the blessings we’ve already been given, our whole worldview changes from one of longing —

to one of overwhelming gratitude and joy.



[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership of today’s devotion ]

Ruth Soukup knows all too well how scary it can feel to have a life—and budget—that seems to be spiraling out of control. Through personal stories and ultra-practical action plans, she inspires and empowers women to make real and lasting changes to their personal goals, homes, and finances.

Her new book Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life is real, honest, and speaks right to the heart of the matter — a powerful read for the beginning of the year:  how can you live the life you’ve always wanted?