One of the major causes of unhappiness in people's lives is money. "Money can't buy happiness." "Money can't buy love." "Money is not everything." Everyday, people are in a mad scramble to earn more money. Yes, we need to earn money to provide for our survival, but for most people, the more they have, the more they need. Many people across North America spend at least 40 hours a week at jobs they say they don't particularly enjoy. Yet, many say they would work more hours if the opportunity to earn more presents itself.
People get caught up in the eternal struggle for money because they believe money will bring them happiness. Unfortunately, for many people, it's only after they acquire money that they realize they still feel unhappy. Some people never succeed in reaching their financial goals, so they continue to live unhappy lives blaming their unhappiness on lack of money. Someone once said if you were to take all the money in the world and divide it equally among all the people both rich and poor, within a few years the money will end up in the hands of the same people who have it now. If this were true, it would support my belief that many people need to have money to appreciate that money does not necessarily make people happy!
A final observation
While traveling on the streets of San Juan Puerto Rico several years ago, I saw a sign written in bold letters on the wall of a building. It was written in Spanish and the translation read something like this: "Life is what you are doing now while you're waiting for what you really want."
I began to imagine the thoughts of the writer who thought it necessary to share his/her wisdom with others. But even before then, I realized that most people I met lived their lives dreaming of a better tomorrow. As average Americans go about their daily struggles, dreams of winning the lottery, buying that dream house, or going on luxurious vacations are often on their minds.
There is nothing wrong with dreaming of the future; in fact, it provides a great incentive for people to better themselves. The trouble is that we have become experts at planning for the future, but find it difficult to enjoy what we have today.
Why does it take a close encounter with death or the diagnosis of some terminal illness for us to stop and take a look at our lives? Why do we have to wait until we come to the end of the road to look back and appreciate all the good things life has given us? Wouldn't it be better to really enjoy these things while they are happening? Why can't we enjoy the moment?
About 25 years ago, I was sitting with friends in a fine restaurant. As we savored the fine cuisine, one friend said, "I want us to realize how special this moment is for all of us. Many years from now, we will look back and recall what a good time we had tonight. I say, let's voice our appreciation now so we can enjoy the true value of this moment." I saw the value in his comments then, and through the years I have known many people who have made ambitious plans for the future. Many of them succeeded in achieving their goals but some confessed that things happened so fast, they couldn't fully enjoy their moments of success.
Here's how it goes. First you say, "All I need to do is to graduate from college, find a decent job, then I'll be happy." So you finish school, find your job, but realize you would be happier if you become the manager of your department. So you struggle do achieve the position of manager. Now you say, "It's great being manager. All I need to put the icing on the cake is to buy that new Mercedes Benz." Then the house, the property by the lake, and so on. During this time, you do not place much value on your achievements so far because you see them as a stage you need to go through to achieve what you really want. But when you have accomplished most of the things you wanted, you still do not feel fulfilled. Then you wonder where the time went. More frightening than that, you may have lost your incentive to be happy.
Don't let this happen to you. Prepare for the future but live for the moment. As the saying goes, "Live every day as if it's your last because one day it will be."
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