As I get older, my dreams of flashy cars, tons of money and worldwide respect and admiration have dwindled to one simple goal: Be content. I’m not talking about contentedness in the form of acceptance found in defeat, but rather the true definition of the word: “The feeling experienced when one’s wishes are met.” It’s not that I’ve necessarily come to grips with being OK settling for less. It’s that my wishes have actually changed.
I no longer wish for money and fame. That was child’s play, and I’m realizing it doesn’t really make you happy. Sure, the one percent has a lot better toys than I ever will, but are they truly happy? I don’t think so until they learn to be content. Yes, it’s easier when you don’t struggle paying bills and can provide your children with whatever they need with ease, but being rich comes with its own set of stresses. Too often I’ve seen money run these people’s lives. They’ve made money their god, and forgotten the whole point of obtaining it in the first place. Got a lot of money? “It’s not enough, I’ve got to get more!” Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
Of course that could just be part of my new wishes. Maybe I just wish money wasn’t so important. It makes life easier knowing those with a load of money aren’t truly happy. It means I can find happiness without it, and it’s preferable to do so. Life becomes a little simpler that way.
Just like they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is happiness, I think. What I perceive as a happy life will probably differ from others, and that’s OK. These are my wishes I’m trying to meet after all.
So I pursue the undefined. What makes a life truly happy? For me, it’s family and comfort. A family structure including a loving wife, healthy children and a house to come home to that has food in the fridge might just be enough. There are things along the way that I’ll want to upgrade, but if I can keep my foundation of wishes this simple, I actually believe I will find happiness in life, if I haven’t already.
I try not to envy those with more than me. Instead, I try to realize they may not have more than me at all. The guy with the mansion on the other side of town, three cars and a boat may have a lot on the outside, but how’s his relationship with his son? Is he on his third wife with whom he never connects? On his deathbed, will he be surrounded by a loving family wanting to spend every waking moment with him before he passes? Because unlike his money, that’s something he’ll actually need in those final moments. Really, it’s something we all need our entire lives.
I often read our columnist Bob Billingsley’s columns more than once for inspiration. He’s kind of our village wiseman, full of positive energy with so much zest for life. Sometimes it seems like he’s younger than me at heart, and that his real age is only a number of candles for him to blow out on his birthday cake.
A few gems of his include:
“Just say, out loud, ‘I am tired of fulfilling old scripts and am overdue for new insights and new adventures.’ It’s OK and important to proclaim, ‘I will not live their life anymore. From now on I live my life without limiting beliefs.’”
“Losing a loved one reminds you of the kindness they provided in your life. The loss of any love helps us to remember the joy and bliss that love offers.”
“When my mind is quiet, my body becomes silent and restful. When I dump negative thoughts and move away from negative people, finding inner harmony is easy.”
“If you never let go, you never go forward. Not letting go means you are controlled by the present and the past. There is no positive future.”
“I wish all of you a quiet life, filled with passion.”
Bob seems like he’s content with his life. That’s something I think we all should strive to achieve.
Patrick Ibarra is the managing editor of the Mountain Democrat.