I will never forget a particular conversation I had many years ago at a party. I was living in South Carolina, and the party was on Sullivan’s Island, in a house right on the beach. I remember thinking how amazing it was to be at a party in such a beautiful beach house, and how I would love to live in a place like it some day. At the time, I was in my young 20’s, had an entry level job in accounting, and rented a townhouse with my boyfriend. We had a great life for being so young, but I felt that the guy who owned this beach house had really made it in life.
At some point in the evening, I had a conversation with the owner of the house. We talked about blah, blah, blah, and then he made a comment I would never forget. He pointed to another beach house that we could see from his porch, and said THAT was the house he really wanted. He said when he would get together with his neighbors, they would all talk about that house and how amazing it was. From my outside point of view, the other house didn’t look any more amazing than his home.
I must have been pretty shocked at that moment by what he said to still remember it. And this is why: if you already have a house on the beach, can’t you just be happy with that house? Why would you covet a different beach house?
We are always looking to get more out of life. But, when do we get to the point where we are content with what we have?
Right now, I live in a great house, but my husband and I talk about living in a house on a lake, or living in Spain, or how it would be nice to live in California. We have nice cars, but my husband talks about driving something more sporty. And wouldn’t it be nice if we had a boat?
I think in some ways, having more does make us happy. It makes me feel good that I live in a nice neighborhood, and that I have more room in my van than I did in my car. I’m sure if I lived in a house on the beach, I would be pretty ecstatic that I could walk out my door and go swimming in the ocean. But, when I think about my general level of happiness, I think it has remained pretty much the same throughout my life. I don’t remember being unhappy when I lived in an apartment, or when I drove my VW Jetta that had rust on it. When you reach a certain level of stability with your finances so that you can have baseline comfort, I think the general happiness you feel remains pretty much the same.
What I learned from that conversation many years ago, is that no matter how much you have, you always want something more, or something different. The grass is always greener. It made me realize that when I start wanting more, I should look around at what I already have, and live in the present instead of thinking my life will be better if it were different. I struggle with comparing what I have to others, but if I just ask myself if I really want or need what someone else has, I almost always realize I don’t. There is always going to be someone with a bigger house, fancier car, or better luxury items. I want to walk that perfect line of daydreaming about what I could have, but also being perfectly content with what I do have.