Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Success verses Contentment

Years ago, I worked with someone who was mentally retarded. I know that is not the PC way of putting it, but honestly, I can't remember what label we are supposed to be using this month. Mentally challenged?

Not Mentally Challenged
See, I never saw him as mentally challenged. He was in his, er, I am not sure, 40s and he still looked at the world with the eyes of a child. He did not worry about his retirement, the price of gas, or whether his shirt matched his pants. He came to work every day, and he loved his job. He loved the weather, rain or shine, and I am pretty sure he was not sweating out finals in his late teen years. And people loved this man – because he embraced life. He was not mentally challenged at all – I would consider him gifted – as he seemed to enjoy life to the fullest. Would I want to change places with this man? No, I am not saying that at all (though perhaps I am an idiot for discounting this so quickly). I am saying that this man knew joy and contentment throughout his life!

I have met many successful people, and success does not seem to be a good predictor of contentment. I am not saying they are mutually exclusive, but I have met just as many troubled successes as I have met contented successes.

You know, when you say successful, most people think of wealth, position or accomplishments. What most people don't think of is health. Why is that? Is it because most of us have good health? In an obese America, I would say that is not always the case. Sure, our Canadian neighbors spend their daylight hours running from moose and bear. Heck, even some Americans living in those "almost Canada" states may do the same. Plus Bison in North Dakota. Has anyone met a single person who lives or is from North Dakota? If I had the ambition of being a US Senator, that's where I would move.

Oh, what was I talking about? Success. Now don't get me wrong, I would love a $500K book deal (and I would right the darned book myself). But if I had some success, would I sacrifice my health. Funny thing is that many would and do.

I am not sure I would chase success, keeping my eye on one thing, ignoring everything else. I have heard lots of stories of successful people who do this though. In one book I read once (Covey?), one guy wanted to make $1 million in one year. He did it, but his wife left him, his oldest boy started doing drugs, etc. Keeping his eye on a one year goal, he sort of screwed up some "goals" that were multi-year endeavors. Good marriage, good kids. So he can't have an ideal home because of his short-term goals.

It seems like a lot of people are on vacation. I have seen relatively few comments, partly because my posts are sub-standard, partly because of technical issues with blogger, partly because I am not talking about cabana boys behaving badly.

Maybe I should find something to write about. To end with a preposition. For shame!


~Deb said...

This was an awesome post Leesa! I needed to read this today, because yesterday I found myself praying for financial help!!! I always have the mindset that success is to enjoy life with family, friends and loved ones, but for some reason, my brain goes back to, big house, nice car, huge career, yada yada fricken yada… But, you just clarified it up for me with this one post. To look at things with eyes of a child is an amazing gift…I wouldn’t say mentally challenged at all.

Don’t worry about comments, people are reading. I’m always reading because your material is not only well written, but clever, funny and insightful. I’d definitely buy your book! I hope one day you publish one---even if you have to self publish like I did. You’re way too talented to not be seen sweetie!

~Deb said...

Now if you write something about a cabana GIRL, I'd even be more intrigued! ;) jk...

Leesa said...

Great post, I'd read your book too ;)

Boris Yeltsin said...

Yeah, what Deb said! I feel as though I'm always "reprogramming" my kids because my father-in-law (their grandfather) is very "successful" and has all kinds of toys and is swimming in all kinds of debt, but the kiddies don't see that part of it, nor do they care, while trolling around in his boat, at his campground, and when they get sick of that, they hook the boat up to his brand-new van and hit the water somewhere else, where the fish are biting.

But, what the kids do see, is how stressed out the man is all the time. He's got a short fuse, and no patience. He freaks out at the slightest little things, because that's the mindset that allowed him to climb the corporate ladder, almost all the way to the top!

My kids have said they like how peaceful our house is, but they wish we had "Pa-Pa" 's toys. I guess you can't have it all.

Great posts BTW.

I do wish you'd write about your 2 week college experience! Well, got to go now!

Tony said...

I like the post.
Needs and wants are often confused.
There is a lot to be said for good health.

Leesa said...

~deb: thanks; you are a sweet heart.

leesa: thanks, dear!

boris: I have some relatives (distant) who are very successful; their kids are a mess, though.

tony: if you don't have good health, you tend to focus on it.

nosthegametoo said...

I think that people have given too many concepts and words ambiguities that don’t exist. Success is an accomplishment, but an accomplishment is not only found in the narrow terms of acquiring things.

I agree that health is also an important form of success. I unfortunately lost my beloved God-father due to his obesity. I miss him all the time. My best friend is going through the same thing with an uncle of his. It disturbs me to hear people talk of obesity and health as though they are merely “self-esteem” issues. Health is serious.

And don’t worry, your real fans aren’t going anywhere.

Peace and Love.

moebugge said...

I have been battling my own dragons lately and today I thought I had not read you recently. I t seems as if you have entered into one of those valleys of lifewhich means if you give it time you will be on an upswing. This may sound silly- True happiness is to enjoy happiness when you are happy as well as unhappy. Stated in another allegorical form : the sun is always shining even behind the clouds.
I have been a caregiver for terminally ill souls as well as emotionally gifted ones. One who mad an indelible impact upon till this day.
The gentleman had muscular dystrophy and when I initially met him, he laid everything on the line- " This is the best day of my life, because I will never be better. You may get sick and recover. If I were to offer you $10,000,000 for your good health in exchange for my body and wheelchair. Which would you choose?"

Ian Lidster said...

But, you know, Leesa, I have never run from a moose or bear. In fact, I have never even seen a moose, so we're not so different in considering the downside of so-called 'success'. What is the goal of any approach to life? As your late President Roosevelt once said, Freedom from fear is the greatest of all freedoms, and if we can collectively or individually attain that then, my dear erudite friend, we have success.
And maybe your handicapped friend was content in that he wasn't frightened.
Thoughtful piece. Thank you.


The Seeker said...

I'd just like a goal. lol And substandard or not, the point is to write everyday. Ease is accomplished throuh practice.

mal said...

we all have to define success for ourselves. To define it by others standards is set ourselves up for MAJOR disappointment. When we do it by others standards and achieve it we wonder why we do not have the sense of self and accomplishment we expect. Guess what? its because it is not what we really wanted. Been there, did that and did not get the T-Shirt

Go figure