Hello 2012, The Year Of Contentment.

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I’m naming 2012, ‘The Year of Contentment,’ is there really any better goal in life?

To be rich, beautiful, famous, successful… whatever your desire, we see these people splayed over our TV’s, ipads and computers. Attaining these goals has not made them more content, nor more worthwhile individuals. Do we really think Kim Kardashian is content? All that (plastic) beauty, money, fame, travel, clothes…not for one minute do I believe she leads a full and contented life.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, J-Lo,  when I look at these people – and the train-wrecks that are their lives – I see nothing even resembling contentment. It’s been written about, and proven time and time again, money doesn’t buy happiness, but what about reaching ones hotly-desired-and-worked-for goal?

Whether it be fame, riches, notoriety, publishing your first book, building the dream home, buying your first new car, a laptop, phone, holiday…. people dream and wish and hope, and gruel-it-out at their jobs just to get to the goal.

When they finally do, they are left with a stark reality. They are the same person – with the same struggles, angers, frustrations and flaws – as they were before they attained the goal. Goals are not a terrible idea, but placing all your life’s hopes and dreams on one ultimate goal, may well set you up for disaster.

In gambling we all know that riding all your money on one hand can make or break you – and the odds are not good, of it making you. Non-material goals are probably going to work out a whole lot better than the material ones, they bring a sense of self-satisfaction that a iMac just can’t compare with.

The only way to truly become content is to be happy with who you are, and the choices you are making right now. Who knows what 10 years will bring? Sure its good to have your 5-year and 10-year goals – we all have them, and it often helps us focus and not get lost or overwhelmed with day-to-day life – but be careful not to live for your goal.

You may find your life has passed you by, in your desperation to get to the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow – or worse –  you may find that it was all a fairy-tale to begin with and the pot of gold doesn’t even exist. It was built-up to such a frenzy that it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype that was created and it’s not nearly as satisfying as it was supposed to be. (Kind of like Google +.)

So my ‘goal’ for 2012, is to be content, just the way things are.

I still have a way to go, but I know I am closer to it than I was 12, 18 or 24 months ago, and that’s an achievement in itself. I make my choices for me and for the betterment of our family, and have zero concerns about outside influences and their opinions of my choices.

So what are my goals for 2012, other than contentment? (A heady goal, I know!)

One of the foremost long-term goals I have, is the kind of son I want to raise. Sticking him in school to get an education, and exposing him to a few sports for team camaraderie, while feeding him 3-minute pizza and mac ‘n cheese, simply isn’t going to cut it for me. In recent years we have made some tough decisions for what we believe is his benefit.

On an ethical level, we wont’ take him to the circus, even if ‘everyone else is doing it,’ because our family will not play a part in contributing to the suffering and abuse of animals.

On a moral level, we have removed people from his life who were dysfunctional, choosing to further their own agenda, at the expense of him and his betterment.

On a physical level, we moved him to a new environment – 1/2 way around the world – in part, to help with his health, and his lungs have never been better! He hasn’t seen a doctor in over 12 months, a first for our family where we have been used to bi-monthly visits.

On a nutritional level, he eats a 90% organic or biodynamic, home cooked, wholesome diet – because without it – we believe his mind and body cannot operate as it was intended.

But what about character?

I have a clear path and direction that I want to lead him in. It is not one of achievements, trophies and awards (though those things are of course nice, and even admirable), its of a greater achievement for which there is no adulation, no award and no prize.

My goal is to raise him to be a person of integrity and clear values. A kind, considerate and empathetic person, someone who will sacrifice of himself to help another. To see a need, and move to fill it as a matter of habit. A person who will evaluate the cost of a decision and make a choice – even if it is to his detriment – if it accomplishes a greater good.

I watch the world we are creating for our kids. A world of processed foods, high-tech TV and video games, instant gratification, and selfishness. One where people no longer matter unless they contribute something to us of value. The term “networking” has become the new way to find employment all over the globe. People pass out cards and promote themselves endlessly. What about reputation? Integrity? Hard work and consistency? Honesty? They seem to have fallen by the wayside in favor of a buck, (or saving a buck).

I don’t want to forget to teach the basics, opening a door for a lady, saying “please” and “thank you,” standing for an elderly person, or pregnant woman on a bus. Respecting your elders, even if the conversation seems boring and out-of-touch.

I don’t care whether he grows up to be a Jew or a Christian, a punk, or preppie. I don’t care if he chooses to be a janitor or a doctor. I care about the impact he makes on the world around him, however small that impact may be. I want him to leave this world a better place than he found it.

He will have flaws, it is of course, impossible not to.

Acknowledging his mistakes, and making an effort to do better is as important as never committing the mistake in the first place.  A lesson without a mistake to learn from, is not a lesson – it’s a tutorial. (Personally, I never learned too well from tutorials.)

To this end, this holiday season, after reading the wonderful post by Southern Sea Muse, we researched children’s homes in our area. Unfortunately, we are in a small country community and the do not exist here – though we do have the contact details to use for some in the city, come Easter and next Christmas.

We made the decision instead, to call our local public nursing home run by the Salvation Army. They service both low-care and high-care patients, and after talking with a wonderful lady, we agreed to bring gifts and cards to 8 elderly people with no family. 4 women and 4 men.

We arrived bearing our gifts, plus flowers for the ladies. My son had made cards for each and every person, and they loved it. He was in fact (as far as I could tell), the closest thing to being treated like a Rock Star, without the microphone and sell-out crowd.

 

The Kiddo, Bearing Flowers and Gifts for the Elderly

Oh, I watched him cringe when the first old lady with long whiskers sprouting from her chin wanted to hug and kiss him, and I also watched when he softened at her delight and he hugged her just a little bit harder. We laughed together at the 96-year-old man wanted me to ‘come back tomorrow’ so he could bring me some roses from the home garden and ‘take me out on a date.’

We felt somber as we visited with the elderly woman with no hair and a body swollen with  fluids who, we were told, would not survive the next 48-hours. We patted her hands, left her with the last Christmas card she would ever see, and her last human contact from someone who wasn’t earning a paycheck to be there.

We wondered out loud, how one is unfortunate enough to end their life this way.

My son received an education in the theory ‘it is better to give than to receive,’ and in the harsh realities of life for those that have no family who care, and whose friends have all passed on long ago.

Did he leave his experience so impacted that his life would be changed forever? I suspect not.

The indicator? On our way home while I was extolling the virtues of the experience, I suggested we do the same thing every year. He responded with ‘uh, how about every second year?’ Clearly my job is nowhere near complete. He is a child after all, a 7-year-old boy who has no true understanding of loneliness, old age and death…. and as it should be.

But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? This is why my goal for raising him must never lose focus, never deviate.

It is the nature of the beast to want to satisfy ourselves, turn a blind eye and pretend we didn’t see that thing we should take action on, and fulfill our own empty desires. It is the nature of this 21-st century to tell us we deserve it, we deserve it immediately and without sacrifice – and should anyone else get in our way we should cut them off at the knees – it’s a dog-eat-dog world, after all.

This is what parents these days have to contend with. It’s a crap-shoot people – we’re just rolling the dice, hoping for the best – and praying we did our ‘homework’, that the job we have done is enough, and we won’t see them on the channel nine news in a police chase inside a decade.

I jest of course. I will be content this year if I fulfill my role to educate and guide my son, to be better than what the world tells us is acceptable, even desirable. If I guide him to want more than what is on offer from the media, and the ‘cool kids.’

Oh, what a goal I have undertaken!

Lets face it, whether you are rich or poor, beautiful or homely, healthy or sick – we only have one shot at this year that is 2012 – let’s make it count for all the right reasons.

Happy (Australian) New Year!

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20 thoughts on “Hello 2012, The Year Of Contentment.

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my own thoughts gathered together into one solid, cohesive statement, quite as well as what I just read. I’m older than you by quite a bit, and my son is now in his mid-forties, and I can remember thinking all those things from the time he was just a little shaver. I can look back at it and be grateful that all those goals became achievable and achieved. He is a good citizen, doing all the right things for the right reasons – because they are the right thing to do. I just admire you for being able to verbalize your thoughts in such an organized manner. Kudos!

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    • Thanks so much, its good to hear from someone who’s been there and managed to raise a decent, productive human being, that it IS possible! Of course we all have our moments of counter-productive parenting, but hopefully the good outweighs the bad more often than not! Happy New Year to you and yours!

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  2. Von says:

    Wow, I think you dumped a heavy load on your little dude’s mind. Probably he got some idea of implementing “care about others”, which no doubt he had before anyway. He’s 7, lighten up on him a little. And yourself.

    We do the best we can, mate. We all have/had high ideals for ourselves or our children. Some are achieved, some aren’t. I don’t think New Year’s Eve is a reason to push what has not yet been achieved.

    Happy and healthy 2012 to you and your family from a new follower.

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    • Well, just to clarify, I’m not trying to achieve all this in a week! 😉 Just putting down some thoughts for the direction in which we as parents hope to aim for over the next year and years to come – there are allowances for being a kid! Its good to be reminded to lighten up and have a little fun throughout it all too – thanks so much for commenting and following! Happy New Year to you and yours!

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  3. Dor says:

    I could not stop reading this Karyn and I am absolutely word-less re how impressed I am by your wisdom and your ability to say it all straight out. Thank you so much for sharing.

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    • Thanks so much for visiting and commenting again Dor. Hopefully my intentions and my actions coincide more often than not in 2012! We all want to do the right thing, but life DOES get in the way sometimes, remembering this post will hopefully keep me on the right track. Wishing a wonderful new year to you and your loved ones.

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  4. I loudly ‘second’ the first and third comments, and have put a sidebar link to this post on my CiderPress sidebar, a link on my Facebook page, and will make mention of it in all the emails I send to friends and family over the next few days. You’ve not only ‘nailed’ perhaps the biggest issue of our time, but also the best means to directly help solve the problem…by ‘re-educating’ our children. In short, GREAT job mom! Keep it up! 😉

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    • Thank you so much William for your wonderful comment!
      Obviously intent is key, but follow-through is paramount!

      I will remember this post and the wonderful comments here when I have those moments of deviating from the plan – when life gets in the way, and focus is blurry – as it inevitably does.

      I agree that these issues have so much more impact on our society today, than so many people would ever want to acknowledge. Thankfully I see other parents seeing the issues and working to raise their families to be constructive and productive human beings also – and doing an even better job than I – so the world’s not ready to go-to-hell-in-a-handbasket just yet!

      Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful 2012!

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  5. What a beautiful essay on what is most important. I was so moved, thinking of the lasting blessings you brought to so many generations at once. Thank you for taking a spark and building a fire of all things good. Your son will know how to make the world a better place in his generation, because his mother already has, in hers 🙂 Happy new year!
    ~ssm

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    • SSM, as always you have such a lovely way of presenting things. We did our best, but of course without you and your awe-inspiring post none of it would have happened, and I know there were many, many more people in the blogesphere who also contributed to their local people in need because of your post. Thank you for the wonderful comment, it is a true compliment coming from you! Happy New Year to you and your family, may 2012 be the year those kids you are committed to are ‘seen’ in more ways than ever before. x

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  6. Carrie says:

    The simple words “thank you” just don’t feel to be enough.

    So, I’d like to throw in “love” and “extraordinary” and “genuine” and “beautiful” and “huge blessing to my heart.”

    And then “love” again.

    Those are words that I see when I see you.

    I am so fortunate to have found you and your beautiful writing. I am a better soul for knowing you.

    May your new year be overflowing, my sweet friend.

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    • Awww Carrie, now I feel like the rock star! You sure know how to make a girl feel valuable – what a gift you have, eh? Wishing you all good things in 2012, I have a feeling its gonna be a good ‘un! (And hey, whatever else happens, 2012 will bring us closer to catching up in person one day!) Have a good one girl! x

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  7. Elyse says:

    It seems like you have already made the world a better place by being in it and by sharing both your actions and your thoughts. May not only 2012 be a year of contentment for you and your family, but all those going forward.

    Thanks for such a beautiful piece.

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  8. Mezza says:

    Awesome commitment great to see some good old fashioned value being passed on

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  9. delajus says:

    You are an inspiration, as a person, as a parent, and in all the other ways I’m too tired to think of right now. I’m going to read this post again tomorrow (my first treat on New Year’s Day) because I know I didn’t catch all the gems as I read it the first time. That’s what I count on from you, a post fairly glittering with gems! You never let me down! Happy New Year!

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  10. As usual, I enjoyed reading your blog this morning. It is quite the opposite of mine this morning, where all I did was grumble about how miserable I am and that I hope to make it better.

    And don’t take it personally, it’s more about me, than you.. when I read your wonderful blog, as well as others out there, that twinge of jealousy hits me.. i’m the underachieving mom to your overachieving ability. I don’t feel like I could ever live up to anyone else and what they do or plan to do. I’m just happy to make it from one day to the next some days. But, your story of change is lovely, and I’m sure your little one will grow up with a big heat & excellent moral character. In the end, I think that is what we all want, to have done our jobs well enough that we know our children will know love & live well.

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  11. […] Hello 2012, The Year Of Contentment. (anobservantmind.wordpress.com) […]

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  12. Katriina says:

    Beautiful. Inspiring. Your son is so lucky to have a mum like you.

    Like

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