“If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” ~Lau Tzu
In the Pixar movie Up, Carl and Ellie save all their lives to visit Paradise Falls, only to realize they’re never able to save enough. Every time they build a substantial nest egg, life happens and they need to spend it.
This is a reality I know all too well. Several months back I told my boyfriend it frustrates me that every time I come into an unexpected sum of money, a need emerges to use it.
One time I got an extra freelance gig and suddenly needed a thousand dollars in dental work. Another time, I sold more ad space than usual, and then found out I needed expensive work on my old car.
After my apartment was broken into last month, I was excited to realize I’d receive a substantial amount in renter’s insurance. I planned to only replace the items I needed, and save the rest of the money—something I was looking forward to since my taxes cost more than I’d anticipated this year.
Then I realized that check was just enough to cover my recent surgery, my upcoming quarterly taxes, and my flight home this week.
Almost every time I’ve gotten extra cash, I’ve needed to spend it, which has made it seem like I can never really get “ahead.”
Recently, I took a close look at my frustration and realized I’d been seeing things all wrong. I wasn’t unlucky for always having reasons to spend unexpected money. I was fortunate for always having that money to pay for unexpected needs.
I’ve always felt safe knowing I have a solid savings—and I’m rebuilding it slowly—but the reality is I am secure.
Most of us are. We can pay our rent. We can afford our necessities. And maybe we can even treat ourselves to the little pleasures we enjoy, occasionally or often.
We may not always feel like we’re getting ahead, but maybe there’s nowhere to get to. Maybe all we need to do is be grateful for our overall comfort.
I realize there are some people who don’t have enough—and for each of us, there will be times when we’re struggling more than usual.
That’s why we owe it to ourselves to stop and recognize what we have when we have it. No matter what that is, we could always have more. We’re only rich when we stop to celebrate that we don’t actually need it.
Photo by slightly everything