Can't Get No Satisfaction? Try This!

Every once in a while, we all need to step back from our day to day activities and make sure that we've got our priorities straight. It's so easy to get caught up in daily busy-ness and the pursuit of stuff. Two of my recommended books, Chasing Daylight, and Authentic Happiness, are geared to this sort of activity. In fact, when "Platinum wife" Melanie and I first read Chasing Daylight, she even suggested that we re-read it once a year as a "perspective refresher."

Chasing Daylight is the true story of Gene O'Kelly, a high powered executive who contracted a rare disease and was given three months to live. It chronicles how he spent those precious remaining months and what he did that allowed him to say at the end that his "death sentence," that knowing WHEN he would die, was a great blessing.
Authentic Happiness is part of an ongoing project by a University of Pennsylvania psychologist with a goal of determining and encouraging the true sources of happiness. Of particular interest to me were the findings in this project relating to the relationship between wealth and happiness (Hint - Beyond the point of a certain level of needs being met, there is almost NO correlation.)

Tonight's "perspective refresher" came from a blog article entitled "The Key to Wealth is Being Satisfied with What You Already Have," from J.D. Roth's Get Rich Slowly blog. J.D. was on a business call and met a man who apparently refreshed HIS perspective. This man lived simply and modestly. He was saving and investing for the future, but he had already discovered the secret of being satisfied with what he had.

Roth's story reminded me of a story about billionaire Warren Buffet, who recently gave 85% of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As the story goes, the Warren and his wife invited Bill and Melinda to their home for dinner. The Buffets have lived in the same house (pictured at left) in Omaha for 28 years. It is currently worth about $500,000. When the time came to go to the dining room for dinner, Bill Gates noticed that the upholstery on the dining room furniture was worn and frayed. When he commented that Buffet should have it reupholstered, Warren replied, "I'm thinking about it."

I think I know why I love that story. My wife and I have lived in our home for the same amount of time, 28 years, and we are just getting around to doing some renovating. As I have told several friends, even if the renovation was free, I wouldn't be looking forward to it. It's all the upheaval, I guess. And the shopping. But the Platinum wife has consoled me with the fact that this will be the last renovation... (I guess that means we have less than 28 good years left :-)

But more importantly it means that for the most part, we're satisfied with what we have. It's not the stuff that makes us happy. As the O'Kelly book teaches, it's about relationships ... friends and family. And we know at Platinum Years that pursuing our life's passion is also critical to happiness. O'Kelly considered his three month death sentence a great blessing because of what it taught him and how it enabled him to conclude his life. But what if , having learned from Chasing Daylight, we lived our expected 20-30 years with that perspective. That would truly fulfill the Platinum Years' goal of "getting the best out of the rest of your life." Which of course is why I brought it up. :-) Bob


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