why I should be thankful.
The secret of Happiness
An essay on the quotation
If you can't be content with what you've received, be thankful for what you've escaped.
When I look at my brother’s life, I feel deeply thankful to God for letting me escape the net of harrowing circumstances in order to achieve fame and affluence. I am lucky to be contented with what I have.
When I say I am contented, it doesn’t mean that I am smugly satisfied. Contentment to me is a sense of benign happiness and peace with self and with those around me.
I realized at an early stage of life, the hazards of ambition. Shakespeare had effectively dramatized how “Ambition is the fall of man” in Macbeth. It was his greatest weakness. I reminded myself of this wise observation, whenever I was in the grip of temptation to soar high, irrespective of its ultimate effect on life in the long run.
Ambition to scale the heights of fame and affluence lands one with the greatest of hazards i.e. insecurity and ill health.
These are the two things, which became detrimental to my brother’s peace of mind. Let me tell you how it happened.
Soon after his internship, he was appointed as a doctor in a government hospital in a remote village. The pay was good and the accommodation was fine. Serving the needs of the country folk should have satisfied his do-good instincts if he had any. However, things took a different turn after a while.
He hated the place, as it didn’t have any modern amenities that a city posting would have had. He hated serving under anyone’s supervision. He was dissatisfied with the pay. He started nurturing the idea of starting a nursing home of his own, on commercial lines.
In a remarkably short period, he achieved his objective by slogging day and night. His huge hospital with modern equipment, attracted rich patients and his dream of becoming rich and famous materialized. He now has an ultra modern home in the most affluent locality of the town. He is a proud member of the city’s elite.
On the other hand, he has problems with the income tax, his wife’s deteriorating health and the poor progress of his children’s studies. In his total absorption in the task of making money for his dream hospital, he had neither time nor patience for his family.
Needless to say that these problems are the result of his ambition and greed to earn more than required.
Thank God! I escaped the possibility of facing all these mind-blowing problems because when I had to make a choice, I made the right one.
At such times I fully appreciate the prudence of the saying,
“The secret of happiness lies not in having what you like, but liking what you
It is beyond debate that everyone wants to shine in life. There is nothing wrong in dreaming for a bigger house, for a better job and for a lot of other things that money can buy. However, we must ask ourselves whether we need them. Do we need to go for a costlier car when the present one is doing so well? Should I buy more shirts when I have a few in the wardrobe, still good as new? Fortunately, I have neither the intent nor vanity to do so.
My present job keeps my creative and social instincts satisfied. I have been offered chances to earn more. After considering the pros and cons of the offers, I realized that I would be richer only by paying the price of sacrificing quality time with my family and my favorite past times of music and books and most importantly my freedom. Since my job is a nine to four occupation, I am free in the evenings to help kids with their studies, prepare their favorite dishes, take them out to the beach or organize birthday parties and beach picnics with their friends. I feel these simple pleasures go into kids’ treasure chest of memories.
If I were to serve in some institute, doubtless I would have had a greater monetary benefit. Concomitantly, however, I would be obligated to obey the rules that would impede my freedom of movement. Quite often I would be asked to work late, attend meetings with the heads of other departments, meetings that most of the time would yield no plausible results, meetings that would end in unresolved issues and a futile arguments. Would it be better to exchange my peace of mind for these goals? No is the unequivocal answer!
My own home has so much love and many sweet moments to share and cherish. The house that we built is transformed into a loving home for the family and the guests who drop by.
My kitchen, which doesn’t boast of modern gadgets serves as a haven for the family to come together, where innumerable lovingly cooked meals have been shared and countless arguments, plans and dreams of a different kind have taken place and continue to do so. Contentment for me is in being a good mother, wife and an honest member of society more than in attaining things of material and temporary value.
I am thankful that we didn’t lease the house nor built two more rooms to earn rent. That would have made our living space constricted and privacy disturbed. Instead, we have planted a lovely garden with tall trees like mango, guava and the pomegranate, the shade and fruit of which delight birds and people alike. The fragrance of jasmine and rose is ever present in the air keeps us cheerful and makes us grateful to nature’s plenty. The terrace above the house is perfect for meditation at dawn and a delightful sit out in the dusk. The changing colors on the canvas of the sky never stopped us from wondering at the magical and majestic paintbrush of God. We feel at once humble, happy and thankful.
I notice that in the rough and tumble of life’s journey, few take good care of health, the true wealth. Very often they face conditions like high blood pressure or diseases like diabetes and cancer when they go for an occasional blood test. These eventualities galvanize them into immediate remedial measures which might prove too late for some.
Thank goodness, I have been made aware from a very early age, the vital importance of daily exercise, yoga and sensible eating habits. The various postures of yoga kept my body and my backbone flexible and my blood circulation free of impediments. Avoiding junk or tinned food and quick- fix meals, kept me free from obesity and malnutrition.
When my mother told me of the existence of cancer on her side of the family and urged me to go for medical tests, I felt cold fear creeping up my spine. I rushed to the doctor for a thorough check up. To my endless relief, the tests revealed there was nothing wrong with me. I bow my head in grateful thanks to God for letting me escape this dire possibility! I do feel that a tension-free contented life has less feasibility of getting diseases like cancer etc.
I am grateful to God and to those who guided me in maintaining the joyful rhythm of life. Although I am not country’s number one singer or an athlete, a position that I once longed for, I am contented that I am just what I am, active and able to celebrate life, the great gift of God.