“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of,” said the wealthy, well-known actor.
Of course, I thought. He’s loving the high life—for now—and maybe feels guilty that 97% of humanity will never live the dream he’s privileged to enjoy.
But what he said next shocked me.
“They should do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that’s not the answer.”
Who made that startling statement? A man just about everybody in America recognizes on sight: Jim Carrey.
I wonder if Jim knew how close he came to echoing the words of King Solomon?
(“When I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun”–Ecclesiastes 2:11 NIV.)
From ancient times to today, man has strived to find happiness by obtaining the next desired possession, experiencing the next enticing adventure, or pursuing the next enthralling relationship—even though any success is short-lived.
When will we learn?
Contentment results when we:
Want what we have.
(“The things you take for granted someone else is praying for.”
When our children were eight, eleven, and thirteen, my pastor-husband was appointed to a church in an area of South Florida known for its golf courses, beaches, and wealth.
That last characteristic was most challenging for our children. Many of their classmates arrived at school in expensive cars. They wore clothing with exclusive labels, owned all the latest gadgets, and traveled to exotic locations.
Though Eric, Heather, and Jeremy could see that consumerism did not guarantee happiness, they still struggled with the inequity.
The younger two, Jeremy and Heather, were thirteen and sixteen when they joined a crew of teens and sponsors for a one-week trip to the Dominican Republic. Their responsibilities included painting at an orphanage and interacting with the children.
The next summer they repeated the trip. And as a result of witnessing true poverty, their outlook on life was dramatically transformed.
(Heather is the blonde on the left, in case you weren’t sure!)
Months later, Heather and I were riding together in our van and stopped at a red light. We weren’t even talking about those weeks spent at the orphanage. But a decked out sports car pulled up next to us and after a pause, Heather wistfully said, “The cost of that car would feed so many people in the Dominican.”
Such a dramatic shift of perspective had occurred in her heart. Jeremy’s too.
However, over time contentment easily fades. We must:
Find the positives of each day.
I’ve started a new section in my quiet time notebook: “A Celebration of Small Things.” Maybe you’d like to join me? Each evening I’m recording at least one thing that gives me a sense of contentment. The first entry on Monday was daffodils.
You see, last week a bitter cold snap here in Ohio ruined much of the early spring flora. Even the hardy daffodils lay bowed over to the ground.
However, they were not defeated! When the temperature rose above freezing again, most of their floral stems stood tall once more. Fluted cups remained open and delicately ruffled; petals fanned outward with only a slight curl at the tips.
I’m so very grateful a soupçon of spring has survived.
(“Sweet are the thoughts that savor of content.
The quiet mind is richer than a crown.”
– Robert Greene, English author, 1558-1592)
I’m discovering Robert Greene was right. Sweet thoughts do produce the treasure of a quiet mind.
* * * * * * * * * *
What a delight, Father, to give you thanks and praise for your abundant gifts—the beautiful, the pleasant, the heart-warming, the humorous. Every day is filled with blessing because of your love, compassion, and faithfulness. My heart overflows with gratitude as I contemplate your goodness!
(Psalm 9:1-2, 103:8; Colossians 2:6-7)
What small thing causes your heart to overflow with thankfulness? Share your choice in the comment section below!