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Open Letter to My Daughter

Yesterday, I received an email from my daughter. She contemplating changing jobs and wanted some advice. After thinking about it over night, I decided I couldn't really give her any specific advice about a possible job change...just some advice on life in general.

Dear Jennifer:

When you were small, I figured out that contentment for you was simple. I learned what would bring out your smile and giggle. Then, I would do ridiculous things if it meant that you’d grace me with your enchanting, toothless grin.

Your contentment was simple for me to figure out. From the start, my wish for you was that you’d always be able to enjoy the many simple pleasures and delights in life and that you’d always be happy.

In America, contentment is often seen as having lots of money. The thing is, money can’t buy genuine friends and it certainly can’t buy unconditional love. Money is helpful and needed, but having it does not guarantee contentment.

If I have to leave you with nothing else in this screwed up world, I want to leave you with this. My advice on how to find contentment.

Find a friend who is your best. Find at least one friend who loves you for you and not for what you have or for what you can give them.

Don’t settle for second best. Find a partner in life who adores you and whom you adore equally. It will happen when it happens. An open heart will allow the right person in when the time is right.

Work at what you love. Find out what interests you. Whatever it is, enjoy it. You spend a third of your life at work, you might as well feel fulfillment. Yeah, it’s a cliche, but if you are working at what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Be kind. Be compassionate. Treat others like you want to be treated. If people are horrible and mean to you, it’s on them — not you. You can only do so much. Some people will be jealous, vain or just plain mean. They’re usually the ones that envy your contentment.

Love the skin you are in. Having a firm butt, a flatter belly, fewer zits or a white smile won’t make you happy and they won’t make you a better person. Stay healthy by all means, but never value yourself based on appearance. Your beauty always comes from within.

Give in and surrender. Don’t try to control others and don’t allow others to control you. You will find people that abandon you when you make life choices with which they don’t agree. Surrender them to their own pathetic, shallow life. They weren’t your friends to begin with.

There is no magic bullet to contentment. contentment is what makes YOU happy. Society will try to tell you what to do to be happy, but how well is society doing in finding its own contentment?

Find your own contentment and embrace it.

Look on the positive side of things. All of us know someone who is always whining about something. Stay away from them, they will just consume your energy. Don’t be that person. Choose to be bright and cheerful.

Stay away from the people that are always talking about the latest trip or their most recent acquisition. They’re empty and hollow within and haven’t learned the secret: Contentment is an inside job.

Take it one day at a time. Too many people in America have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow and they’re pissing all over today. Live in the moment. Squeeze every drop of life you can from the minute you’re in, then move to the next minute.

Remember this old Indian saying:

If you take more than you give,
You are forceful,
If you give more than you take,
You are powerful.

I realize this note may not answer your question about changing jobs, but if you feel the advice I’ve given you here is sound, then somewhere in it you will find the answer to your question.

You have a good head on your shoulders. You’ll make the decision which is the best for you at this point in life.

It’s almost spring here in Argentina. Pack a bag and head south for a spell when you can.

Remember, I love you!

Daddy

Jerry Nelson is an internationally known photojournalist and documentary photographer. On assignment in South America, Jerry is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Contact him today.