by Henrylito D. Tacio
Norman Vincent Peale is one of the most influential authors to come out from the United States. Oftentimes, people consulted him with their problems. At one time, a man came to his office and complained that he had never been happy since he became a success.
“When younger and looking forward to a business career, I got a lot of fun out of life,” he said. “But now that I’ve got it made, the happiness I expected didn’t materialize. How come?”
No person will ever find happiness in life unless he is completely satisfied with what he has. Never reach for anything beyond your grasp. “Happiness is as a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you,” wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Contentment is finding as many benefits for not getting what you want as you do for getting what you want. Startled by Silence, a thought-provoking piece written by Ruth Senter, typifies this definition:
“I heard the voice but couldn’t see the person. She was on the other side of the locker, just coming in from her early morning swim. Her voice sounded like the morning itself – bright, cheerful, and full of life. At 6:15 in the morning, it would catch anyone’s attention. I heard its affirming tone.
“‘Delores, I really appreciated the book you picked up for me last week. I know the library was out of your way. I haven’t been able to put the book down. Solzhenitsyn is a great writer. I’m glad you suggested him to me.’
“‘Good morning, Pat,’ she greeted another swimmer. For a moment, the melodious voice was silent, then I heard it again. ‘Have you ever seen such a gorgeous day! I spied a pair of meadow-larks as I walked over this morning. Makes you glad you’re alive, doesn’t it?’
“The voice was too good to be true. Who can be that thankful at this time of the morning? Her voice had a note of refinement to it. Probably some rich woman who has nothing to do all day but sip tea on her verandah and read Solzhenitsyn. I suppose I could be cheerful at 6 A.M. if I could swim and read my way through the day. Probably even owns a cottage in the north woods.
“I rounded the corner toward the showers and came face to face with the youthful voice. She was just packing her gear. Her yellow housekeeping uniform hung crisp and neat on her fiftyish frame. It was a uniform I’d seen before — along with mops, brooms, dust cloths, and buckets. An employee of the facility at which I swam. She flashed a smile my way, picked up her plastic K-mart shopping bag, and hurried out the door, spreading ‘have a glorious day’ benedictions as she went.
“I still had the yellow uniform on my mind as I swam my laps and sank down among the foamy lather of the whirlpool. My two companions were deep in conversation. At least one of them was. His tired, sad voice told tragic woes of arthritic knees, a heart aneurysm, sleepless nights, and pain-filled days.
“Nothing was good or right. The water was too hot, the whirlpool jets weren’t strong enough for his stiff knees, and his doctors had been much too slow in diagnosing his case. With his diamond-studded hand, he wiped the white suds out of his face. He looked ancient, but I suspected he too was fiftyish.
“The yellow uniform and the diamond-studded ring stood out in striking, silent contrast, proof to me again that when God says, ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain,’ He really means it. This morning, I saw both contentment and discontent. I resolved never to forget.”
Ah, contentment. “The stomach is the only part of man which can be fully satisfied,” said Thomas Alva Edison. “The yearning of man’s brain for new knowledge and experience and for more pleasant and comfortable surroundings never can be completely met. It is an appetite which cannot be appeased.”
Yes, no one it seems is contented anymore. People want more. As one friend explains: “I have met a long of people wanting to have more material things in life which in the end are useless and won’t satisfy their cravings.”
Again, allow me to share this note sent to me by a friend via e-mail (yes, people are no longer sending handwritten letters!). It may be ironic but what the author pointed out is true: “We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wide highways but narrow viewpoints. We spend more, but have less. We buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families’ more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees, but less common sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.
“We spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get angry too quickly, read too seldom, and watch TV and video too much. We talk too much, love too seldom, and lie too often.
“We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years.
“We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’re cleaning up the air, but polluting the spirit. We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less.
“We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We have more income, but less ethics; more leisure and less fun; more kinds of foods, but less nutrition; more acquaintances, but fewer friends; more effort but less success. “We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication. We’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.
“These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men and short character; steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but also of domestic violence. It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom. “These are the days of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away self-respect, one-night stands, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.”
Now, how can you be satisfied with your life? An anonymous writer shares this advice: “Take time to laugh; it is the music of the soul. Take time to think; it is the source of power. Take time to play; it is the source of perpetual youth. Take time to read; it is the fountain of wisdom. Take time to pray; it is the greatest power on earth. Take time to love and be loved; it is a God-given privilege. Take time to be friendly; it is the road to happiness. Take time to give; it is too short a day to be selfish. Take time to work; it is the price of success.” — ###