In the chapter on Living Peacefully in his book Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, Dr. Wayne Dyer shares the 46th verse of the Tao Te Ching. In part he says:
“There is . . . no greater tragedy than discontentment; the worst of faults is wanting more – always!”
Written five hundred years before the birth of Jesus, a God-realized man named Lao-tzu in ancient China shared these wise words that ring so very true in our culture today.
So I ask the question – How do we know when we have enough?
When I was growing up I had a limited wardrobe, a few nice toys, and a rebuilt bicycle – because my parents worked hard but didn’t have unlimited financial resources. We didn’t live in excess of anything (except the abundance of a beautiful vegetable garden that my step-father worked tirelessly at), but we always had enough. I didn’t really need anything – unless I looked around me and saw what other people had. I didn’t need things – until I saw an ad on television or heard about some new thing on the radio. I didn’t get most things, but it created a desire within me.
I think that’s the way it is today. We have media thrown at us from every direction and friends on Facebook telling about their latest exciting vacation, car, clothes or gadget. It gets us wondering if that’s what we need.
So we struggle with the issue of – is what I have enough? Would more make me feel successful, happy, content?
- The average household credit card debt is $15,675.
- The average household mortgage debt is $172,341.
- The average household auto loan debt is $27,865.
- The average household student loan debt is $48,591.
- The total credit card debt alone collectively owed by U.S. consumers = $729 billion.
I don’t know about you, but those numbers tell me that there are whole lot of people who are not living in contentment – they are living in bondage to a whole lot of debt.
So, getting back to Lao tzu and his ancient wisdom – he also says “There is . . . no greater curse than covetousness.”
Many might think ‘that’s just an old word from the Bible‘. Today’s terms would be – greediness and materialism.
Dr. Dyer shifts our thinking to a more positive way. “When you truly understand what it means to live peacefully, satisfaction will begin to replace your desire for more. Your world will begin to become tranquil as you change your own life and then touch the lives of your immediate family, your neighbors, your co-workers, and ultimately your nation and the entire planet.”
What’s he talking about? He’s talking about practicing gratitude and contentment in our every day lives. He’s saying that if we want to live a content life, we need to learn that it isn’t all about acquiring things. He’s saying that a sense of gratitude within us will squelch the desire for more.
A final word from Dr. Dyer: “When enough of us are able to do this . . .[we will] surpass the demands of the ego.”
And a final word from the ancient Chinese master of wisdom:
“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
― Lao Tzu