Happiness doesn’t depend on possessions

Happiness doesn’t depend on possessions

Happiness doesn’t depend on possessions

Bonnie Titley

Editor’s note: Character Fort Collins is a nonprofit organization that emphasizes the enhancement of good character throughout the community. Each month, a different character trait is highlighted. For August, the trait is “contentment: realizing that true happiness does not depend on material conditions.”

The words might vary, but in every major belief system is the principle, Thou shalt not covet. No matter our beliefs, we are exhorted to be content with what we have.

This does not mean we should not try to better ourselves; it suggests that whatever we do to earn our upward movement should not be motivated by a competitive spirit to be better than others.

Further, it suggests that we help those in lesser circumstances without expecting recognition for it.

> A co-worker’s mistake may cause you to miss a deadline. If you are content, you step in to help.

> Your parents’ illness may delay your departure on a long-planned vacation. If you are content, you quietly change your reservations.

> A new generation of software becomes available. Your needs don’t justify getting it. As a contented person, you are not blinded by desire.

> You join a service club for the relationships, not the “contacts.” Soon enough, your attitude and your investment in the services of the club have their positive effects on your life. Your motives are clear evidence you are contented with your own circumstances.

When you fulfill your responsibilities, when you build good relationships at home and at work, when you help others succeed and progress – you will become more content. The keys to building your contentment have been hinted at above:

> Keep close check on your desires.

> Enjoy to the fullest whatever you earn, but don’t just try to outdo others.

> Remember that every relationship is unique; cultivate and treasure each one.

> Make everyday decisions based on your character, not your wallet.

> Help those in difficulty.

“No longer forward nor behind, I look in hope or fear; But grateful, take the good I find, The best of now and here.”

– John Greenleaf Whittier

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

– Epicurus

Bonnie Titley is a director of the Character Council in Fort Collins. She has lived in Fort Collins since 1965. Send e-mail to btitley@characterfortcollins.org.