‘We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without’ Immanuel Kant.
As I said in Light – my natural disposition is to be happy. I have never been one to wallow, sulk, or give in to gloomy moods.
Happy is such an overused word though, isn’t it? What does it really mean?
Now, as I said in my response to SDCannon, working through my past in order to build myself a stronger future is making me rethink or redefine what happy means.
When you think about the dictionary definitions, ‘happy’ is a moment. It is experienced for brief periods:
- It’s been delighted, pleased or glad over a particular thing;
- It’s characterised by or indicative of pleasure or joy;
- favoured by good fortune or lucky;
- Apt or felicitous, as actions, utterances or ideas;
- Obsessed by or quick to use (ie trigger-happy).
So when I say I am a naturally happy person, that I had a happy marriage, that I was happy with my life, I suppose I do not really mean happy. What I mean is content.
Contentment – feeling satisfied with what one has and not wanting more or anything else, having ease of mind – is the key. Feeling contented.
‘Contentment’ captures much more clearly what I mean than ‘happy’.
I was contented with my life. I didn’t want anything else. What I had was more than enough for me, both in terms of emotions and material things.
Emotionally, I knew there were areas where I comprised too much, sacrificed more. That there were issues of imbalance. But those did not matter. They didn’t outweigh the good and positive aspects. I felt loved, secure and needed. I felt satisfied. So I was content.
Materially, I felt blessed. Spoiled even. We would go out to expensive restaurants, buy expensive wine, go on luxury holidays. I have never been a materialistic person. I have never owned a credit card or had a bank loan (other than a mortgage). I do not really desire ‘things’. I am not into designer labels (although I do enjoy getting a TKMax bargain). I am not into jewellery, shoes, bags, makeup etc. I have a few nice things and I am satisfied with those. So I was content.
Over the last few months things have changed radically.
Emotionally, I have been rejected by the person who was my favourite and best in the whole world. I have been cut off, dead.
Materially, my disposable income has reduced to about 1/5th of what it used to be. I do not have the funds to go out, drink fine wine or go on lavish trips. I have to think before I purchase anything. I have to strictly budget to make ends meet.
But do you know what? Despite these changes, I still feel content.
Emotionally, I’m content because his loss does not negate the fact that I am still loved and cherished by so many. I am overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I’ve received. I placed too much emphasis on us, on loving him, when in reality, I have an abundance of love.
Materially, I am managing. I do not need or desire any of the frills and fripperies of my old life. And I’m rather glad the children have stopped being so spoiled.
I think all this means that fundamentally I am a person who finds it easy to be contented. I am satisfied with who I am and what I have.
Another revelation again. My ex was not content. He expressly said that I made him unhappy. That what we had was never enough. He was the spender. The one who desired things. The one who thought nothing of spending £1000s on clothes, wine, holidays. The one who chased, and still chases, a bigger salary.
But I shouldn’t have been the source of his happiness. And money isn’t going to bring him happiness. He needs to be happy – to be content – with himself. To be satisfied.
I may not be rich, in terms of money. And my future fortunes will be dramatically different now that I’m solo. But I am rich in the things that really matter. The things that will sustain me in my old age. I’m content and I’m glad I’m me!