With the new year around the corner, there are lots of wishes and resolutions going around. Happens every year, with everyone, in some way or the other. We pray, we resolve, we decide, and usually we forget. Tennyson ended a poem of his on a line of hope—“and the new sun rose bringing in a new year.” But the sun rises every day bringing in a new day—and we ignore that new beginning that is gifted to us.
However, there is something about changing the numbers on the four-digit part of the date that makes it special. We feel the need to match such a change with a change for the better in our lives. So the resolutions. Of course the new year gets old within a week and the importance of the keeping those resolutions fades away.
Well, it is that time of the year again. I am praying for lots of things that I hope will happen in 2011. Probably the same things I had hoped for in December 2009. I do believe, though, that they will have to do with money somehow. My prayers usually do. But since my prayers are going to be about the same, there definitely was no ‘Aha’ Prize Patrol moment this passing year. At the same time, I am happy enough, thank God.
And that brings me to what I want to write about today. I did mention the importance of finances for happiness in an earlier article. But I did not impress upon the reader how very important it is. Not having enough money can destroy whatever little joys you might want to gather for yourselves. A vacation with family, a gift for a friend, a drive to the park, a box of chocolates – everything would require expenditure. So granted, financial security is an all-important aspect for happiness.
But how would you define financial security? How would you mark that elusive ‘enough’? And therein, I think lies the control of our own lives. We know of enough famous-and-rich people who fight depression with drugs and worse. And of course, more than enough of those struggling to stretch their paychecks to meet the next. A whole lot of wealth is not ideal, and a paucity of funds is certainly not.
I think that what gives us contentment is not the physical accumulation of wealth; it is the knowledge that we have what we need. That we have enough. What is enough is for each of us to decide. We all have a bar of what is ideal for us. We just need to identify it.
Let us not make the mistake of taking a facile decision of saying ‘the more the better’ because it really is not. It only lends to dissatisfaction with whatever we have been blessed with, and puts us in a mad race against everyone we think has more than we do.
Each of us can decide to live within our means. And that does not mean we must not try to enlarge our provisions, or try to earn that extra buck. But our requirements must dictate if we need that extra wealth. I know of people who have bought a huge house because they wanted to show that they can afford to! They call a whole bunch of people every weekend to show-off their home, and those are the most tortuously boring get-togethers I have been at. The fanciest parties that I have been at, where I have learnt and tried new things and met new friends, has been at a beautiful yet unpretentious home. My friend gives million-dollar parties without; I am sure, spending that amount.
I believe that it is very important to have a need for more, to enable the capacity to hope. I do not mean that need to own a ten-bedroom house; rather, the need to save for a fancy vacation, or an expensive car. To need to work towards an indulgence makes it all the more valuable, all the more memorable. It gives us a feeling of fulfillment and success that could not have been engendered with permanent financial comfort.
So, this year I am not praying for the multi-million dollar lottery. I am praying for enough money for all my needs, a little more for stability, some more for celebrating life, and more importantly enough peace to enjoy it all. My resolution? To remember how much is just enough.