“Rule No. 434: 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.”
-Oprah Winfrey; Media Magnate
Thank you Oprah for once again opening our eyes! I absolutely love this quote! This is a perfect quote for the season. Read it again right now, I’ll wait….Ok, totally amazing right?!
This quote is true for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your dollar status in the world is, this quote is made for everyone. There is not one single person in the world who wishes they had something they don’t. These missing items from our lives could be anything from money, friends, food, excitement, or love. The more we focus on the things missing in our lives the more despaired we become. The more despair in our lives the more irritated we become. By focusing solely on what you don’t have instead of what you do have, you are constantly telling yourself you are worthless.
We only feel that we have to have something because of jealousy. People are a jealous being. We see someone who has something we want and we get spiteful. Spite fills us up to the point where we make snide comments about how undeserving they are and how deserving we are. It’s unhealthy. If you constantly moan and gripe about what you don’t have, everything around you will become a reminder that you still don’t have that one thing. The more you concentrate on what you don’t have the more it will stick in your mind and plague you.
Growing up my family didn’t have a lot of money. Being the youngest out of 5 kids I learned pretty quickly that I wouldn’t get everything I wanted. I would beg my parents for the newest and greatest toys, only to be told that we couldn’t afford it. By the age of 3, I knew very well what “we can’t afford that” means. I would beg and beg my parents for these toys. Even as we walked through the store I would stop and beg “please I just want this one toy! Pretty please! I promise I’ll be good!” Passerby’s would stop and stare, and my parents would quietly pull me aside and whisper the same thing they always did “we can’t afford that”. Solemnly I would hang my head and submit to not getting my toy, even though it would plague me with every shopping trip and every commercial. By the time I had relinquished my want of this fabulous toy it would be around Christmas. With some miraculous Christmas miracle my parents would get me that toy I had been begging for. I would open my present knowing that we couldn’t afford what I really wanted, but excited to see what I got instead. When I would rip the paper back I was always astonished. Cheering nearly screaming for joy as I danced around with my beloved toy I’ve wanted so bad, my family would laugh watching my ecstatic dance of joy. I would ask my parents how they got it, because I knew we couldn’t afford it. They would never give me a true answer but that’s ok because they gave me so much more than just my Christmas wish.
I now know that my parents had to scrimp and save for months to be able to afford me one present. The love that one present gave was enough to fill the entire room. It was only when I had finally relinquished my want of the toy that I finally got it. Once I submitted to never being able to afford such a toy would I then get it. I have found over the years that I grew up poor. Though I never knew I was poor at the time, I did know that we couldn’t buy certain things. I knew my friends would have nicer things than I did, but I knew I would have love. Sometimes the struggles of not being able to easily have what you want all the time made my life better. I grew up knowing I was loved, knowing how to love, and knowing how to be frugal. I know how to appreciate what I have and how to not care about the things I don’t really need but would like to have.
There are many people in my life that struggle with this quote every day of their lives. They wake up in the morning saying “why do I have to work? Why can’t I have won the lottery? I deserve it”; they drive down the street saying “look at that jerk! I deserve that car not them!” This is how it goes for some people. They only focus on what they don’t have, or what they believe they are entitled to. What they don’t realize is that every time they rant about the unfairness of it all they are throwing themselves into a well of despair that has no way out. I have dropped a ladder in many of these wells. The people I’ve helped have come back to me saying “I never thought of it that way, thank you”. The ladder I threw them was a life preserver of contentment.
Things are just things. Relationships and how we choose to feel about our life is what truly matters. The more we focus on getting the best new phone, car, house, job, or any material things, we are pushing aside what really makes us happy in life, peace. Peace can come from being happy where you are. Peace comes from loving your life and finding the good in it rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Many times we hear stories about couples trying to have a child for years. They try so hard to have a child that they forget about loving each other and being happy just being with each other. It’s not until they give up on having a child that they finally conceive one. Trying too hard and focusing on the wrong parts of life can make you stagnant in life instead of flourishing.
My last story I will tell before I let this quote and article resonate in your mind, is one of a man so mad at his son he couldn’t see the good. I was working the front desk of a hotel and one of our guests was attempting to check out. They had to come back and get their room key and extend their stay for just a few hours. You see as they were packing up to leave that morning, and the man’s 17 year old son was loading up the car. His son decided to put his belt on before he went back into the hotel. In doing so he dropped the car keys into the trunk and closed it, effectively locking the family out of the car. The man was travelling by himself with his 4 children, the 17 year old being the eldest. They were on their way home from a long trip and only 8 hours away. Wanting to get home so badly the man was irate with his son. He couldn’t believe how “stupid” his son was. The man came to the front desk asking to be able to stay in the room a few hours longer while they waited for a lock smith. I told him that was fine, and he proceeded to rant about how “stupid” his son was, and how he delayed them getting home. I listened to his rant nodding and smiling. When he asked me “don’t you agree” I told him this, “hey you never know what could have happened. My mom always tells me things happen for a reason and there must be a blessing in this. I mean you never know…if your son hadn’t locked you out of the car you might have gotten into an accident or caught in a storm. You never know what could have happened but there could be a really great reason that you weren’t meant to leave that early this morning.” The man stared at me blankly for a moment, I thought he was going to start yelling at me, but he slowly smiled and said. “You know what, you’re right. I don’t know what could have happened. I’ve been looking at this all wrong. I’m going to go apologize to my son right now.” I didn’t see that man again but the smile on his face as he left the office assured me he was thinking differently. This man wanted to get home so badly that, it was all he could think about. Any delay in getting what he wanted only made him more irate. This man couldn’t look past the fact that his son had delayed them with a “stupid” mistake. Once I threw him a life preserver his entire outlook changed. This man who was so mad all he could do was complain and rant completely changed into a happy, caring father who only cared that his family was safe and happy. He found his peace.
These stories are just a few. I could tell you hundreds of stories of people who thought they were entitled to things and it only corrupted their entire life with misery and despair. It is only when you can accept the way your life is, can find the joy and beauty of your life, that you can truly be happy. To be happy and have a peace of mind in life, all you need to do is appreciate what you have and let go of what you don’t. This doesn’t mean don’t try to make things better for yourself, it just means don’t let the spite of not having something ruin your entire existence.