I had the privilege to be running up Giant Mountain on a beautiful and sunny day in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York on a recent vacation when a funny thing happened. Just as I was nearing the summit, I came across a middle-aged husband and wife. Excited to see someone I said, “wonderful day, isn’t it!” The woman, however, looked at me with a pained expression and complained “but there’s no wildflowers.”
Shocked that someone could ignore all the beauty in their midst in favor of complaining about what was allegedly “missing,” I quickly said to her husband “please buy her some wildflowers when you get back down into town.” I am positive, however, that even if he bought her thousands of the most brilliant wildflowers, she would find something that was missing – something to make her unhappy or unfulfilled. Perhaps that is why the husband was chagrined by my comment.
As I continued on to the summit, the views opened up and the day became even more special as a panoramic scene of the Adirondack mountain range came into sight. The woman’s comment and expression, however, stayed with me. She confirmed a fundamental truth: that we can always conjure up a reason not to be happy at things that are apparently “missing” from our lives – even in the best of places.
When my wife Sarah Jane summited, we rejoiced in the day. I figured that if one could make themselves unhappy by perceived inadequacies in their environment, one could reverse this black magic by doing the opposite – reveling in what is present.
|Atop Mount Giant|
Henry David Thoreau once said that “[a] man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” Here's a pledge to try and be happier with what I have, and less worried about what I do not.