Be content

By Susan V. Ople

As you read this on a glorious Sunday, note that the world has not ended contrary to the doomsday interpretation of the Mayan calendar. Imagine that to be the worse scenario for 2012: that you and I no longer exist, and there are no Sundays to speak of. It didn’t happen. Isn’t that enough reason to celebrate the coming of a New Year?

Now, take time to examine your life as it is. Yes, now. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and relax your mind. Let the sounds that surround you recede. Let the love of people close to you take over. It’s not bad to feel warm and fuzzy as you do this. Think of when you laughed the hardest and with whom. Dwell on that for a minute. Think of when you cried the most and why. Yes, think of that, too.

And, be grateful. For every emotion that runs through you and every memory created and retained are the incandescent lights of life that make you a person of substance. You are who you are because those memories and emotions fit you like thermal underwear.

I can never assume to know anything about your life, dear Reader. But what I do know is that we are given a finite number of days on earth to fulfill a purpose. That purpose has to be bigger than buying the latest gadget or indulging in another night out with friends. Those little things are tactical goals, not strategic ones. Contentment in life comes with having a strategic plan on how to live it.

At my age (golden, like cholesterol-free cooking oil), I have reached a bend that calls for slowing down, and bending low to smell the proverbial flowers. I am content because my daughter, Estelle, is an exemplary specimen of human intelligence and good character. If an alien were to come to town, he would probably ask my daughter to supervise the recruitment of inter-galactic manpower resources. She is that efficient.

My best friend, Arleen Ong, and I texted each other one time and we compared notes about our respective lives. We have been through the thick and thin, with me being thicker than most while she kept her thin frame through the years. Both of us agreed that we can do more in the money department but though desirable, we have more than enough blessings to count in our private family affairs. Believe me, penniless is okay but to have no family to turn to when you are either too rich or too darn poor is the saddest thing of all.

So never dig that hole in your life – a dark, huge, deep hole of loneliness because you are too proud, or too selfish, or too shortsighted to even know that what’s important in life are people who can’t be bought and moments that can never be repeated.

Contentment comes from appreciating what you have and who you have without having to compare these blessings with what others have in their own lives. Contentment is different from sloth. That you are content should not mean that you are lazy. You can be content with what you have but still continue to strive for more out of a desire to reach your fullest potential.

But if you reach a plateau in your career or have a television set that can never be as flat or as thin as your neighbor’s, don’t be ridiculously unhappy over it. As my one of my favorite poets, Maya Angelou, once said, “We need much less than we think we need.” Perhaps, what you crave the most is not really the thing that would make you whole, but what others think you should crave for to be just like them.

Be content, because you have a new year to make amends, a new year to fill up with events and milestones, and a new year to be a better you.

Be happy with who you are because as long as you did your best and continue to improve as a person, then you have every right to be proud of what you have become.

Be strategic in your ways – create moments even if your intention is to have something new to post on Facebook or to tweet about, because at least you are putting your best foot forward before an audience of your peers.

Be positive because people love positive energy and are repelled by whiners and complainers. The only people who welcome complaints are those paid to listen to them; and, given a choice, they would prefer not to if they could only afford to do so.

The Mayan calendar ended abruptly but our lives continue, and the mystery that links both shall never be clear. But to be alive, blessed with a multitude of memories still to be created, is the gift that we all must be content to simply have. 2013 is a blank page waiting to be written. Happy New Year! (Send comments to Follow me on Twitter via

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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