CONTENTMENT is a state of happiness and satisfaction; feeling secure with what you have, what you are, and where you are heading at this moment.
How many of us feel this way right now? I dare say not many, especially senior citizens.
A contented person is usually happy, cheerful and joyful; more importantly he feels fortunate, lucky and blessed.
Man, by nature, is a greedy animal. We always want more of everything, from wealth and riches to power and glory; our insatiable appetite for more has no limit. That’s why we always hear of the expression “the rich get richer”.
Everybody wants more money and they will go all out to get as much as they can even if it involves huge risks, breaking the law or at the expense of those who deserve more.
Admittedly, their health and wellbeing does take precedence as they grow older, by which time it may be too late to do much.
While there is nothing wrong in reaching for the sky, take a snapshot of yourself during this journey and count your blessings with what you already have, rather than focus on what you don’t have.
It may not be that worthwhile to relentlessly pursue your dreams if the sacrifices made (such as health and being away from the family for long periods of time) work against you in the longer term.
Those who choose to pursue their dreams at the cost of health and family are bound to be high-ego individuals who are not always contented with what they have; their hunger for more wealth, and lust for power will continue until their dying day or until they are incapacitated.
Then who will get to enjoy their wealth? Your guess is as good as mine. But certainly not the person who kept sacrificing, day in and day out, building up the huge empire. As they say, money in the bank is not yours if you do not spend it.
What else do we want more of? Besides money, do we want more power, influence, fun (girlfriends or mistresses), respect and others to kowtow (grovel) to us, higher commissions, and bigger and more lucrative contracts?
But where will it end? Will it ever end?
This category of people are so consumed with enriching themselves that the greed factor has become an integral part of their lives and the unfortunate part of it all is that they are totally unaware how such a lifestyle takes a heavy toll on the quality of their life and their family’s.
The bubble will eventually burst when they realise that life is not just about making more and more money and that other things also matter.
This “hunger for more” can also lead to dire consequences or to one’s downfall or cause more harm, anxiety, stress and eventually lead to death. But with all the wealth and power, are they really happy and contented?
In the process of continually enriching themselves, many overlook or lose the small joys of life.
They certainly don’t have time to “stop and smell the roses”. Sad to say, this category of people will never get the real feeling of contentment in their lifetime as they continue in their search for more wealth, power and glory. Men without contentment will continue to be so until they get a jolt through divine intervention.
What then are the insights we can draw upon?
Lesson No. 1 – Be content with whatever you have. For just one moment, look at yourself in the mirror and see how picture perfect your family is. Thank God for what you have, be content; there is not a need to continually look for greater riches at great expense and sacrifice.
Lesson No. 2 – Review and start analysing how you can make your short time on Earth better. Make peace with yourself and reflect on who you really are. When are you going to say “enough is enough” and thank God for what you already have.
Lesson No. 3 – Learn when to let go; enjoy what you have built up and saved all these years and most importantly learn what exactly “contentment” is. Fulfil your bucket list before you kick the bucket.
Lesson No. 4 – Start changing your lifestyle by doing things that will give you good health in old age. For instance start exercising; it’s never too late to start if you have not done so. Be prepared to block off enough time for this important activity on a regular basis.
Lesson No. 5 – If you are super rich, learn to be a philanthropist; your wealth is better spent on the poor and less fortunate than squandered by others.
Enjoy what you have. Be contented. For instance, if you have four daughters or four sons in the family, be more than contented, rather than lament the absence of a child of the opposite sex. Be thankful that they are healthy and that they are your flesh and blood.
The truth of the matter is that we need much less than we think. We should rejoice in the way things are.
At 66, I still get offers to work on a full-time basis but I turn them down simply because I want to enjoy doing what I want during my last years on this Earth. I could do with the money but I also know that whatever I don’t spend does not belong to me; it is for someone else! I want to enjoy what I already have and I do count my blessings every day.
Oprah Winfrey put it aptly, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never ever have enough.”
The article originally appeared in The Star last year.
Main photo: Start a new exercise regime. Photo shows seniors exercising at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail park.