Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Be Happy with What You Have ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Be Happy with What You Have ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

One of my favorite times while growing up was when Grandma came to visit. She traveled 3,000 miles to see the family, and always brought big hugs and a present for each of her grandchildren. We all loved Grandma.

I always knew what Grandma would bring me because she always brought the same thing. My brothers and sisters would get different surprises with each trip, but the present I was handed each year was a jigsaw puzzle. After years of collecting the predictable gift, I decided I wanted something different next time, and made up my mind that if she brought me one more jigsaw puzzle, I was going to complain.

Sure enough, after all the hugs and kisses were over with Grandma's next visit, out came the presents. And what did she give me? You guessed it. That umpteenth puzzle was the last straw. I mumbled disapproval and let Grandma know that I was not happy with her choice of gifts.

Then the most heart-crushing look swept over Granny's face. She was hurt. Her bighearted smile we all loved wilted. She didn't know what to say. She had tried to please me, but I was unhappy.

I felt horrible. How selfish I had been, how careless. I wanted to take back what I'd said, but it was too late. I would have given up any number of presents to see Grandma cheerful again.

Words can't be pulled back once uttered, but lessons can be learned. Remorse over my insensitive criticism led me to conclude later that I needed to be happy with what I had, and not wish for something else.

I've done my best to practice this lesson over the years since.

Paul's guidance in the book of Hebrews, "Be content with such things as you have" (Heb. 13:5, Revised King James Version), has adjusted my attitude in a positive way many times. In a consumer- driven society where large amounts of time and energy are spent in the pursuit of self-gratification, the instruction to be content with what one has may seem hard to follow and even unreasonable. But if we believe we always need something more to be happy, we will probably always be unhappy. Even when we get something more, typically, we want something else after that. …

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