Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You're Richer Than You Think

The media inundates us daily with gloomy prospects of our nation's economy.  First thing in the morning, the newspaper splashes our faces with headlines about the national debt, corporate corruption, and frightens us with news like yesterday's possibility of no social security checks next month.  For us seniors, this last one is a grabber, isn't it?  For almost 50 years we willingly and diligently sent part of our paychecks to Washington to build up Medicare, and now when we should benefit from the program we built up.....well, we may be floating up a deep river in a leaky boat.  And, none of us know how to swim!

All of this negativity penetrates our brains and infests itself like a growing bacteria.  The only way to stop the growth of this debilitating infection is to add positive thoughts to fight off the negative ones.  Instead of dwelling on the riches most of us don't have, let's take time to zoom in on the riches that we do have.  We must not take these lightly, because they are the core riches to contentment.  And, contentment is the ultimate lifestyle, in my contented opinion. 

What really determines how rich we are?

Friends.  No amount of money on earth could equal the value of our friends.  The oil fields in Saudi Arabia would be worth pennies compared to the goodness, kindness, and caring that our friends give to us.  A good exercise is to actually take a notebook and pencil and write down the names of our friends.  If we go a step farther and add their phone number next to their name, we have a personal 911 system that is dependable and will result in sure-fire response.  Let us never under estimate the powerful force of friendship.

Health.  By the time we reach our 60s, things start going haywire with our physical being.  Living takes on a new dimension.....fixing and repairing.  Who among us doesn't have a routine for taking our meds?  At our house, we remind ourselves, "Did you take your meds?"  We're to that point.  But, you know what?  We're just happy that there are meds to keep the Grim Reaper at bay, for awhile anyway.  The longer we live, the more precious our health becomes.  Next to gold, I don't know of anything right now that is such a high commodity.

Strength. The strength I value the most is strength of spirit.  Long ago I learned (the hard way) from my mom when she would see me sitting in a corner crying.  She'd say to me, "Don't be such a calf!"  At the time, I thought that was a brutal thing to say to a little girl, but now I know it was the trump card we call "tough love."  She knew I was a softy, and she also knew that life would be terribly hard for me if I didn't get tough.  I will always be grateful to my parents for two things.  One, I thank my daddy for teaching me the meaning of the word, "no," and my mom for teaching me to buck up and be tough.  Life isn't for sissies, and they both knew that.

Family.  My life buddy and my fuzzy one here are the angels on top of my tree.  Then there are the other family members who have stuck by me through some pretty raging waters.  I come from a strong ancestral line of women, and there are now a couple strong women who are following me.  When it comes to me and family, quality means more than quantity.

Knowledge.  This is a good one.  I believe in reading and learning.  Unfortunately for me, I don't have a degree to boast about and flaunt, but I've done all I possibly could to learn on my own and study the things that interest me.  Knowledge might be the one and only thing we can take with us to Heaven.

Skills.  Oh, we don't give ourselves enough taps on our shoulders for the talents we were given at birth.  The things that we do naturally and don't think of skills, we ought to.  I believe in predestination, so it's my thought that we have skills that we need to be using to make the world a better place.  If talents and skills are left unused, then the world suffers the loss.  Life carries more than a right, it carries responsibility.  We can't just continually complain about the way of the world without adding our portion to keep it going on the right track.  When and if we get tangled up in the notion that we are entitled....without contributing.....well, then the negative headlines are going to keep slapping us in the face.

Character.  If we work hard to do the right thing, eventually a richness of character will emerge.  When that happens, other people will trust us.  And, if others can trust us, then our wallet will be bursting at the seams with the things that allow us to get a good night's rest.

There's a philosophy out there that goes something like this:  "No matter how much money you make, you always want more.  So, if you make $50,000 you believe that if you just made $100,000 you would be happy.  But, then you begin to make $100,000.  At that point you believe if you just made $150,000 you would be happy, and so on through life.  This pattern is true whether you make $50,000 or $10 million a year, because as you earn more money you acquire more expensive tastes.  It seems to me that you might as well learn to be happy on $50,000 a year, figure out a way to earn it, and then have the rest of your time free to do what you want."

Money certainly is a necessity to survive.  We all know that.  But, it's not the only necessity.  Spending time with friends, laughing together, crying together, talking about the easy things and the hard things....those are the gems that fill our treasure chest.....not the $10s, $20s, $50s and $100s.  Then we have to toss in our maintainable health, our loyal families, our strengths, skills and talents, knowledge, common sense, and integrity.  It's so easy to get down in the dumps about the direction the world is going, but let us never lose sight of our blessings.  Maybe we should put more faith in the human spirit, heart and soul that are born again with each new generation.  There are young people out there who are going to save us from ourselves.  I know they will, because they have the riches to pull it off.