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Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Art Of Satisfaction

By Karin Steyn

Spending the greater part of each day to get food on the table is wise benevolence. It is the simplest security system we rely on for the sake of a better standard of living. But it's work, work, work ... and then the grave. While we know it's the only way to provide the necessities, all the work takes a serious toll on our health and relationships. For many the salary doesn't even come near to compensating the effort, and the outcome is resentment and disappointment.

There's always something spurring us on. A good education for the children, an annual holiday, the nest-egg, insurance ...and in the long run the end justifies the means. Yet, the security system is flawed. We never feel financially secure. We stress about inflation, debt, medical expenditures, crime, the cost of entertainment, the car payment, a salary increase and practically everything and anything with which we're involved. Who amongst the middle class and commoners can sincerely say their income comfortably lasts till their next pay day?

We define our own standard of living. It's never done according to the scale of our income. It's done according to our desires and the material world we live in. What we never realize is that we should be living according to our income. If we get peanuts, our life should be based on the peanuts. We are what we earn, right? If we're managing to eke out a mere existence, we should learn to be satisfied and self-sufficient. Of course there are many who disagree, and with five credit cards soaked to the limit and three or four personal bank loans, they lead a life of a higher standard, indeed! From sunrise to sunset, 24/7, they're reaping what they sow: a stress-afflicting existence. And why? Is it for a better life? Do we do what we do simply to compete with the Joneses? Or is it because we feel we deserve more; a better deal?

The salaries are often out of proportion with the hard work and long hours, which leads to increased frustration and despondency. We look at the sacrificial efforts of the ground workers - policemen, nurses, teachers, firemen, and traffic officers - who remarkably return to work every day for the pittance at the end of the month.

In the end, it's all in the mind and they way we think. When we're negative, the cost of living drains us of every drop of happiness. Dwelling on all the financial obstacles and our circumstances only make matters worse. No amount of complaining will change (for the better) our job, the situation at work, our salary or for that matter the lifestyle we lead. The cost of living shouldn't rob us of our happiness. It shouldn't make us slaves of our jobs. It shouldn't affect our relationships.

We aren't happier when we have more. We aren't happier when we have choices. Happiness comes when we learn to be satisfied. Unfortunately when we are selfish, jealous or greedy, we are never satisfied. Perhaps then, the art of being satisfied also lies in working harder at perfecting our personality.

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