Wants, needs, and being content

The air conditioning in Steven’s car stopped working last week.

Perfect timing, right? It’s only 100+ degrees these days. It’s gone out before and he has been able to fix it. But this time, I think it’s just donezo.

It makes me sad for poor Stevoid. Driving around with the windows down and still sweating bullets. Luckily, his drive to work isn’t that long, and we take my car just about everywhere else.

It’s not the end of the world. There are certainly worse things. And it will be fall soon enough.

I guess the real reason the broken air conditioner bums me out is because we’ve been saving to get Steven a new vehicle for almost a year now. Not just any new vehicle, but a truck — something he’s been dreaming about since he was 15.

We’re both a leetle upset that it’s taking so long. His ’01 Chevy Cavalier (the vehicle he has had as long as I’ve known him….almost nine years) has actually held up pretty well for the most part. But over the past year it’s gone downhill fast. The broken air conditioner is just another reminder that a new vehicle is no longer just a want, but quickly becoming a need.

It’s times when the air conditioning breaks that make you realize all the things you don’t have, instead of the things you do.

It’s also times like these when social media seem to keep screaming at you, “SO AND SO HAS THIS AND SO AND SO HAS THAT AND BLAH BLAH BLAH.”

There are many, many reasons why it’s DUMB to let those kinds of things get to you. There are many many reasons why it’s DUMB to compare your life to others, and even worse to compare your material possessions to others’. Gross. Bleh. Whyyyyy.

I know this, yet I still find myself from time to time moping about because so and so has this or that.

I’ve always had trouble being content, really. (Check out this post from xojane about social comparison, contentment and social media. It rocks.) When I was in high school all I wanted was to be in college. When I was in college all I wanted was to be married. Now that I’m married all I want is a house. The list goes on and on. Until one day, I guess I got tired of all that nonsense, and started asking myself some questions:

Are all or your needs met? Yes.
Do you ever go hungry? No.
Do you sleep in a warm bed every night? Yes.
Are you employed? Yes.
Do you have a vehicle? Yes.
Do you have health insurance? Yes.
Are you safe? Yes.
Are you happy? Yes.

When I sat down and really thought about it, I realized I have all that I need….and a pretty dang good portion of additional wantsOnce I realized that, it just seemed wrong to want more.

(And I mean, obviously, we have chosen to spend our money on other things, while also trying to save. Puppies are expensive too. But even if we had not made those decisions, we still would not be able to buy a truck for several more months). 

As humans, we compare ourselves to others (with or without the help of social media) as a way to draw conclusions about ourselves and our lives. It’s natural. However, it is not healthy to let this consume us, or to let the success of others take away from the happiness we find in our own lives.

I’ve come to love, really love, our one bedroom apartment. Sure, it would be nice to have a yard for Dixie and a little bit more space, but it’s also nice to not have to care for a yard, have access to a pool, and have maintenance problems fixed within 24 hours, free of charge.

I have all that I need and then some. And I have a hell of a lot more than many people (too many) here in the richest country in the world (Uh, one in five U.S. children lives in poverty. ONE IN FIVE). I know this and I’m grateful….even if I sometimes forget how blessed I am.

We’re impatient creatures. We want everything and we want it now. (Uniquely American? Unique to Generation Me? Hmmmm). I will admit that it wasn’t until recently — like the last couple years — that I began to understand just how long and hard my parents worked to give me and my siblings the life we had growing up. I mean, I saw them go to work everyday. I saw my dad pay the bills at the kitchen table with a look of strain and worry on his face. I knew money didn’t grow on trees.

But I guess I just thought it would happen faster. I thought a college degree paved the way, and once Steven and I had big kid jobs (which we do), we could afford things like a new vehicle and maybe a two bedroom apartment or a duplex.

And maybe in a better economy and a different time period, that would be the case. But it isn’t right now, at least not for us, and that’s the way it is. But in all honestly (really I’m not just saying this) I think I like it that way.

If we had everything we wanted right now, what would there be to look forward to? If we were buying houses and cars and taking trips and getting promotions and living extravagantly at 23 and 24, what will we need to be happy when we’re 50? Would we even value the things we have? Or would we just want more? When will it be enough?

It’s enough right now.

The broken air conditioner in Steven’s old car caused me to temporarily forget this. We will need to get a new vehicle by the end of the year, BUT at the end of the day, we are fed, clothed, and happy.

And if we weren’t so concerned with everyone else, we just might find that we all have enough right now.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” ~Oprah