How To Achieve Contentment By Managing Reality Better

Life seldom works out as it should. Everyone has fuzzy goals at 21 which will largely be unmet, but few would believe it. According to psychologist, Albert Ellis, we share three ideas that we think are real. Believing them to be true holds us back. We come to learn they are not real:

  1. I must do well.
  2. You must treat me well.
  3. The world must be easy.

I must do well

We come to realize “well” is comparative and focussing on comparison causes emotional problems. We should always make a conscious decision about what we mean by “well.” Failing to do so leaves us only with comparison to others and that leads to problems.

We do not compare across enough parameters. Bill has more money. Joe is in better shape. Fred has a better job. Mike’s kids behave better, and so on. Comparing yourself to an amalgam of others fails.

It fails not because of defects in facts, but because while all the comparisons are true, they are of little value. Bill has more money but is a heavy drinker and on his 3rd marriage. Joe is in better shape but has no friends. Fred has a better job but works 70 hours a week to keep moving up the ladder. Mike’s kids behave better but Mike is a tyrant. There would be a similar list for females. Oddly enough, not the same list.

Priorities matter and each of us has our own for our own reasons. We do well if we get enough of the things we value.

You must treat me well

There is no must at all in the real world. People treat you in ways that fit their version of themselves. That vision changes regularly and is often circumstantial. Maybe they just have not had their first coffee yet.

You are just furniture to most of them. Their behaviour towards you reflects them better than it reflects you. As a guideline for who to pay attention to try this, “Never accept criticism from a person you would not go to for advice.

I have told my children that outside your family, it is unlikely there are any people who think about you more than 10 minutes a year. Don’t take people too seriously and especially don’t take yourself too seriously.

I think Susan Sontag has said it best,

“I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them.

People are all selfish to some extent and taking time for you requires effort they are seldom willing to use.

The world must be easy

The world is immensely complex and both easy and difficult. The problem we all face is the world is easy for people in some ways and difficult in other ways. No one has it all good or all bad.

We should use that guideline to focus our attention. For business people it is a simple as do more of what you are good at and hire people to do the, hard for you, but necessary things. Key ingredients in succesful people include knowing themselves, and holding the ability to know the difference between the important and the trivial.

They recognize four conditions

  1. Important and good at it
  2. Unimportant and good at it
  3. Unimportant and not so good at it
  4. Important and not so good at it.

They will hire for condition 4 and probably parts of condition 1. You cannot spend much time on trivia and still succeed.There is a large category of the things they don’t know about at all. Some of those are things they believe to be trivial that are in fact important. To deal with it, they must be adaptive. Learn by doing.

A Path

From Shakespeare Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1. “… to sleep, perchance to dream” Hamlet contemplates death as a solution. A usually faulty solution. All you must do is fit your life to the world a little better. Something alone “To think, perchance to plan.” There is a process.

Find the thing you like to do, find a way for it to make a living for you, find people you care about and who care about you, nurture relationships that work, continue to learn, grow, try new things.

Once you understand the world and your place in it, you have an excellent chance of making a viable plan, executing it, modifying your purposes, and achieving contentment.

Strive for contentment. Happiness is a stretch goal.


I help people understand and manage risk and other financial issues. To help them achieve and exceed their goals, I use tax efficiencies and design advantages. The result: more security, more efficient income, larger and more liquid estates.

Please be in touch if I can help you. don@moneyfyi.com 705-927-4770

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