“Are we rich? My classmate wants to know.” I remember my son asking me this many years ago.
“We are comfortable. ‘Rich’ is a complex word,” I said.
“Are you rich? We are comfortable.” He was talking to himself when he frowned and said, “The answer doesn’t make sense. ”
Your life doesn’t have to make sense to anyone, but if it’s a six-year-old boy asking, you have to somehow put things into perspective.
It dawned on me that contentment is still one of the most difficult things to work on in life. When does anyone ever feel contented anyway? Is contentment just a feeling or is it a state of mind? Do people ever stop to say they are satisfied with what they have in life?
What is it that’s making you feel that you don’t have enough? I talked to some people and there’s one (unsurprisingly) common answer to my question about security.
Is Money the Root of Agony?
I have never had a relationship with money until we had kids. By “relationship with money”, I mean that I had no feeling towards it. If I had money, I was fine. If my wallet was empty, I would be just as fine. Things, however, changed when we had diapers, tiny clothes, formula and baby things to start worrying about. There were also looming thoughts about the kids needing more things, so a thought of a fat bank account started to cover my head like a dark cloud.
Many people feel that their life is nothing more than a tiresome rat race. Hard work does not often translate to satisfactory compensation. I know of someone who had a job but could not afford the fare to work on some days. I know this so well because that person was me many years ago.
So what changed?
Did I get a higher-paying job? Did I move closer to my workplace? Did I leave the workforce? Yes to all of that at one point or another, but that wasn’t what changed it all. What wore me down on a daily basis was worrying about what was going to happen to me.
The Noisiest Thoughts Inside My Head
What if the kids or Alex or I got sick? Where would I get the money for hospitalization?
What if I lose my job? How am I going to support the kids?
How will I survive with the very little money I have?
In the next few months… and years…
None of us got sick; I did not lose a job, in fact I quit a few of them and found better opportunities; my kids would always tell me how I was the greatest person in the world and that none of them cared about money; I had friends and things I needed, so misery was never in my way. But did I tire myself out? Yes, big time, by worrying. Every day.
That was what I really gave up — worrying. Don’t shoot me down yet because I’m not suggesting you throw all your cares away and be foolhardy. All I’m asking is that you ask yourself this: has worrying ever helped you in any way? Probably not.
Here’s what helped me over the years. How to be contented in life is no top secret. It is something that your heart knows if you listen close enough.
What You Can Do When You Feel Like Everything is Never Enough
- I stopped letting money define me. With or without money, I am the same person.
- Gratitude. I started counting my blessings every day and thanked the Universe for them. I started feeling richer than I should ever be.
- I stopped comparing myself to others. The more I ignored thoughts about other people, the more I saw how beautiful my life really was.
- I went back to basics and let go of things I wanted and not needed. I gave away 70 pairs of shoes, sold a few more pairs, gave away and sold clothes and things that were just collecting dust in my closet. I gave and gave and gave and felt richer every time.
- All that I could not have, I knew that they were not meant for me.
The self could be difficult to deal with because we’re pre-conditioned to think in certain ways — we learn this from school and our families. We’re also often subjected to the (sometimes very preposterous) standards of the society.
Be patient with yourself. I also have days when I make slips and pity myself for not having everything I want in the world. But then, that’s what makes us human. We have the amazing ability to pick ourselves up as soon as we realize the mistakes we make, and strive to become better persons than we were yesterday.
When you feel like you never have enough, look around you. Sometimes we just fail to see that we’re actually richer than we think.