Raise your hand if you have felt sorry for yourself in the last week? Okay, now for those of you who haven’t felt sorry for yourself, how many have gotten bent out of shape over something that is really not all that important? I would venture to guess that those who answered yes to one or both of these questions would be a pretty large percentage of those reading this column.

Raise your hand if you have felt sorry for yourself in the last week?  Okay, now for those of you who haven’t felt sorry for yourself, how many have gotten bent out of shape over something that is really not all that important?  I would venture to guess that those who answered yes to one or both of these questions would be a pretty large percentage of those reading this column.
I inherited a pretty strong “worry” gene and sometimes allow that part of me to take over the rest of me.  Even though I know I shouldn’t, I often times see the glass as half empty rather than half full.  And at times I treat myself to a nice little pity party.
Usually I can snap out of the wallow, but sometimes I have to be whacked up side of the head and at times have been told by “friends” to put on my big boy pants and get over it.  I put friends in quotation marks but really they are friends because they remind me that most of what we worry about will never actually happen.  
I have a pretty darn good support group and at my lowest days in the last few years it seems that someone will know exactly what to say or do to lift me up. And the funny thing is that it isn’t always the same person.  I will also say that my closest friends have never really handled me with kid gloves and won’t let me get too pessimistic.
But, I know that not everyone has this kind of support and I have taken mine for granted from time to time.  For that I am sorry and promise to try to do a better job of thanking them for that support.  If nothing else, the last few years have made me more empathetic to those who are struggling and I try to support them just as I have been supported.
Human nature has truly not changed since the dawn of man.  Technology has improved our lives beyond anything that our ancestors could have ever imagined and we have no true concept of the struggles of long ago generations.  But, the nature of mankind has been untouched.
People living today and those living thousands of years ago feel the same emotions and crave the same things.  The only change is the manner in which they live out their lives on this earth.
One of the things that we as humans (especially Americans) do is that we never seem to be happy in our situations.  Madison Avenue ad companies are paid to design ad campaigns that make us think that we can’t be happy unless we have some new material “thing”.  We are led to believe that if we had (fill in the blank) then our lives would be complete and we would be happy.

That’s not the way it works in life.  As long as we are constantly striving for some material “thing” to make us happy we are destined to fall short of the goal set by some ad company.  “Things” can never make us happy.  Of course some things help us be more content but they can never truly bring happiness.

We do not really know what is going on in other people’s lives.  Some are more transparent than others but we truly cannot judge the pressures or difficulties other people are going through because it isn’t our life.  

How many celebrities who have everything they could ever want in material goods are among the unhappiest people on earth?  And, on the other end of the scale, I have seen people in Africa with almost nothing in the way of convenience items that we take for granted, show pure joy in life itself.

 I know that I have written about the movie City Slickers in previous columns but it seems appropriate for what I’m trying to say.  Curly, played by Jack Palance, tells Billy Crystal’s character that the secret to life is this and then holds up his index finger.  When asked what that means he says that it’s the one thing that matters the most to you in your life and it’s up to you to figure it out.

I don’t think that the meaning of life is just one thing but the point is that we have to find what brings us joy in life and embrace it.  For me it’s the three f’s – faith, family and friends, but that’s just me.  It’s up to you to figure out what it is for you.  But, I will give you a hint that it probably isn’t the latest gadget that you think you can’t live without.

More than anything else, we need to quit searching for happiness where it isn’t and show care and concern for our fellow travelers on the road of life. Who knows, you might find your one thing along the way.   




   
      


   

Kevin Wilson writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.