When asked about what surprised him the most about humanity, the Dalai Lama provided the following response: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Probably most of us know a very wealthy person who worked 70 to 80 hours a week for many years in order to become very rich.
People who devote most of their time and energy to becoming wealthy do not have much left over for family, friends or other people. Making money becomes their obsession, their hobby and their religion. I think it’s possible that money and materialism can be God to some people.
Those who become obsessed with becoming and remaining wealthy pay little or no attention to the past and have no time left over, after working a 70-hour week, to enjoy the present. The needs of family members and friends are set aside, sometimes for years and sometimes forever.
Material needs are met, but emotional needs of loved ones take a back seat to profit. Time for camping trips, throwing a ball around, and attending children’s events is not available. The kids may have the best car in high school, but they rarely see the missing parent. The fortune earned cannot buy back time lost . . . it’s too late.
• We all need to evaluate what we do with our spare time. Is golf, tennis or playing poker more important than taking care of the emotional needs of our spouse or the needs of the kids?
• Is your free time devoted to your ego needs and not to your loved ones? When is the last time you showed compassion or love for someone besides yourself? Have you reached the point where you can’t walk away from the job because you have been seduced by money or power or both? Before you know it, the kids will be adults whom you don’t really know.
• Rosie Cox loaned me a book titled “Life’s Little Instruction Book,” written by H. Jackson Brown Jr. Basically this book offers life lessons. I like the following lessons offered:
• Live beneath your means.
• Drive inexpensive cars, but own the best house you can afford.
• Teach some kind of class.
• Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yard.
• Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen every day.
• Know how to type.
• Feed a stranger’s expired parking meter.
• Return borrowed vehicles with the gas tank full.
• Hire people smarter than you.
If I were asked to create a bumper sticker, I would select “Exactly what would love do?”
• Nowadays when I get into a situation that requires a decision to be made, I say to myself, “Exactly what would I love do in these circumstances?”
• When you are dealing with family and friends, you are often asked for recommendations, or you may need to make a decision they will not like. I find that posing the “What would I love do” question helps me help others in a more thoughtful way, instead of allowing my ego to make the decision. When you bring love into the equation, your solution or recommendation takes into consideration the feelings of other people as well as your own thoughts and needs. When love enters the picture, anger is pushed aside. Love can stop anger in its tracks and turn a hostile person into a person who listens.
What-would-love-do reasoning may require “tough love” decisions, too. Sometimes, especially with children, you just have to say “no.” They may hate you for a few hours or days, but they get over it and you and the kids move on.
It’s always better to partner up with love than it is to hang around anger or depression.
Bob Billingsley is an El Dorado Hills resident and biweekly colunist for the Mountain Democrat.