Loss of any kind messes with your sense of well being. Job loss, loss of a loved one, loss of health…. Having experienced a few of those myself recently (not my own health, thankfully), I’ve noticed some things I might not have paid much attention to in the past. There are little things that help to create a feeling of security when they are full or empty.
I knew someone once whose mother raised seven children on her own, after her husband developed multiple sclerosis. She went back to school to get her teacher’s degree, and during that time, the family lived on very little money. One of her “full” idiosyncrasies was she always bought a new container of salt when she went to the store. Her kitchen cabinet was always full, even if only with containers of salt.
Here’s my short list.
I feel a sense of well being when these things are full
- My car’s gas tank (especially at only $1.65 a gallon)
- The refrigerator
- The wood bin
- My house (with my family)
I know how fortunate I am that I can manage these things, and I don’t take any of it for granted. Too many people right now are struggling to meet these basic needs.
I also feel content when certain things are empty
- My inbox
- The drawer where the bills gather before they get paid
- The kitchen wastebasket
Lately I’ve been experiencing a pretty significant sense of well being – the kind that comes from the really important things in life. The members of my immediate family are happy and healthy. My mother is dealing well with her grief over the loss of her husband of 58 years. I am able to bring security and joy to her life just by being there to provide dinner and share a game of cards. While my employment future is uncertain (whose isn’t these days?) and my retirement fund, like everyone’s is worth a whole lot less, I am still incredibly fortunate.
I try to reflect on these things every day – this helps to expand my sense of contentment. And I try to remember the “contentment mantra” I learned from a budhist monk: I have enough.