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HOPES realized and aspirations attained give us a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Sadly, though, many of our dreams and expectations do not turn out the way we wish. Frequent disappointments in life can make us feel exasperated with ourselves and even with others. An ancient wise man aptly observed: “Expectation postponed is making the heart sick.”

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What do you want out of life?

Do you have reasonable expectations, or do you fantasize about things that may be beyond your ability or means, reaching for the stars in effect?

The previously mentioned wise man, a keen observer of human nature, gave this wise advice: “It is better to be satisfied with what is before your eyes than give rein to desire; this too is emptiness and chasing the wind.”

“What is before [our] eyes” refers to our present circumstances and realities. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with trying to improve our lives. The point is, however, that the wise do not pursue unrealistic goals.

How realistic is it that you one day will become famous, rich, find the ideal marriage mate, or perfect health?

Possible? Yes! Realistic? Not necessarily.

How can you avoid disappointments in life?

Life today is very fast paced. Seems that the more we try to keep up, the further we to fall behind. Demands on our time and energy can be unrelenting, and when we fail to achieve what we set out to do, we tend to come down on ourselves. We could even feel that we are letting others down.

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In many cultures huge pressure is put on young ones to get the best possible education, the most respectable profession, or the best paying job. For them wealth and status is everything. When things go ‘wrong’, when disagreements about these things arise, as they inevitably do, consequences may be disastrous.

Recently a glamour model was found dismembered, with body parts hidden in a soup pot, due to disagreements about family finances!

According to Jenny Taylor on yahoo! Finance “the majority of couples admit to arguing about money”. She says that most arguments are about ‘spending habits, financial infidelity, salary differences, shared bank accounts, and the use of credit cards’. Most of us can perhaps relate to this, although there are ways to minimise this kind of friction.

Placing too much emphasis on material riches is not the path to happiness. Money itself is not the root of all evil, as some say, but rather the love of it. How many people have sacrificed everything – family, friends, health – in order to become rich. But it is those other things that could potentially bring the greatest happiness in life.

Once above the poverty line,” noted a thoughtful observer, “increases in income have surprisingly little relation to personal happiness.”

Early in the last century, a reporter, when interviewing Andrew Carnegie, a pioneer of the steel industry and then one of the richest men in the world, was told by Carnagie: “I am not to be envied. How can my wealth help me? I am sixty years old, and I cannot digest my food. I would give all my millions if I could have youth and health.”

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The reporter added: “Mr. Carnegie suddenly turned, and in hushed voice and with bitterness and depth of feeling quite indescribable, said, ‘If I could make Faust’s bargain I would. I would gladly sell anything to have my life over again.’”

Another multimillionaire, oil magnate John Paul Getty, later said in agreement: “Money doesn’t necessarily have any connection with happiness. Maybe with unhappiness.”

The wise man, quoted a few times earlier, was also one of the richest men of the ancient world, King Solomon. What did he have to say about wealth and happiness?

“I became greater and increased more than anyone that happened to be before me in Jerusalem” he said, yet added: “Everything was vanity and a striving after wind.”

He also said: “A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver, neither any lover of wealth with income. This too is vanity.”

Often, those who attain a certain goal, such as material riches, still crave more, they are never satisfied. How many billions do you need to have a comfortable life?

Famous influencer posing with a luxury car
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Social media often portrays the image that you need to be wealthy in order to be happy. All these videos and images of “influencers” posing with flashy clothes, luxury cars, eating in super expensive restaurants, and so on, indeed “influence” the young ones in particular to pursue these things. Often they end up in failure, which in turn leads to deeper unhappiness.

Then you get the ones, who like Carnegie and Getty, have “made it” in life. But like Carnegie’s example highlights, it may be too late for them to enjoy the fruits of their labour due to deteriorating health and old age.

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Diminished mobility and energy magnify our limitations and add to feelings of frustration. “I felt impatient with myself for not being able to accomplish things that were so easy and natural before I got sick,” acknowledged a woman called Elizabeth.

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