I am a believer that you should be happy with what you have. So often we look at what others have and we forget about all the wonderful things that we have in our own lives. I like to “preach” that even though you might not have a brand new car, you do have one that takes you where you need to go. Your home decor might be stuck in the 1970s, but you have a roof over your head; a shelter from the extremes of cold and heat. You have food to eat even though you might oftentimes say, “I’m starving” if you haven’t eaten in 4 hours. This is also why, sometimes, when I hear that I am so lucky to have everything I have or if someone says, “I wish I had that” pointing to something I own, I actually feel guilty. Why do I feel this way?
I look around at family and friends and see things they have. I do not covet those items. I am happy for them and for their acquisitions. These “things” make them happy. If they are happy then I am happy for them. I never say, “I wish I had that.” Maybe I’m weird. Having wanted stuff does create joy in your life, but there are those that once they get that remarkable thing they are still not happy. These are people who do not actually love themselves or their life. They can collect things forever, but until they find that inner peace, they will never be satisfied with anything they own.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a lover of shopping and acquiring new things. I have even delved into “new to me” items. They are gently used items because we have such expansive wardrobes of clothing that we don’t get a chance to wear anything out. It also makes me feel thrifty and supportive of local charities. Yup, all these thoughts will go through my head and then I’ll buy a totally new item of clothing. Meh…it happens to the best of us.
Now, having someone say, “it must be nice,” in a snarky tone, is what gets me feeling guilty. Yes, it is nice that I can buy nice things for myself and my family. It is nice that we can do some renovations in our house that have been the bane of our existence since day one. It’s wonderful that I have such beautiful things in my life. Yes, these “material things” do make me happy and make my smile. Why do I feel guilty?
The guilt doesn’t last as long as it used to. It is with age and experience that I have learned to get over that feeling. You see, after sacrificing my wants and giving to others instead, I had gone through many a bad experience where none of it was appreciated. The recipient would thank me and praise me for I had done for them. After a few months passed, none of it mattered. It became, “what have you done for me…lately?” Giving to those who always greet you with an open hand for taking, will never appreciate what you have done for them. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you learn from it and move on.
I also remind myself, that even though everything seems like it happened yesterday, it didn’t. Wiseguy and I have spent years and many work hours to accumulate the goodies we now have. I now like to say that I have earned these things. Children were raised to the best of our abilities. There are now grandchildren that we can spoil and pamper as we could not afford to do with the children themselves. The foods I prepare to make everyone’s taste buds happy are incredible and that is because I finally can afford to do this. Whenever I get happy smiles for the food selection I am beyond ecstatic and grateful for everything that is in my life. I could easily cry all day long with joy when I compare where we started our life together and where we are now.
IN THE BEGINNING: a one bedroom apartment in a not-so-ritzy part of town. We had a newly purchased bed. I had moved out of my parent’s house with my clothes, my VHS Disney collection, and my books. The furniture stayed there except for one metal shelf that had housed my book collection. This was to become our kitchen pantry for 4 years in that apartment. We, Wiseguy and I, had received the following as charitable gifts: an old motel tv (that lasted a few months before the colour tube busted), a round banquet table, and two metal banquet chairs. Our friends at work decided to donate to our cause. We were gifted a pull out couch and a swivel chair from a Native Indian fellow we worked with who had 7 children. Yes, we were more destitute than a man with 7 children. After a couple of months, my mother-in-law and father-in-law took us to a lovely store called Sears (which is now closing down forever) and they bought us a lovely forest green couch and matching chair. We still have that couch and chair. We can’t bear to part with them even though they are now 22 year’s old. We shopped at Value Village (a thrift store) for ourselves and for the children. We didn’t have much, but we were very wealthy in the happiness department. We loved each other, we loved the children, we loved our life.
NOW: After almost 22 years from that single bedroom apartment we have progressed and donated that old furniture to the same place where we used to shop. We have given that store dining room sets, clothing, small appliances. We live in a beautiful home with 5 bedrooms and two spare rooms. My kitchen appliances are a professional chef’s dream and I enjoy cooking and baking and having people’s faces light up with the goodies I serve. We have an abundance of things and we worked hard to get them.
Do I feel guilty? I did for many years, but have finally decided that it was with hard work and patience that I now have what is in my life. Most importantly, I still have my Wiseguy and the beautiful children in my life. I am also grateful to now have 5 grandchildren who can enjoy all the fun things that are now part of this abundant lifestyle.
Now I forcefully and emphatically say: GUILT….BE GONE!