Contentment Is Natural Wealth. Luxury Is Artificial Poverty
I once asked granny "how come you kept giving birth year after year until you had a dozen of them?" "Allah makes you forget the all the pain and all you are left with is mere reflection of it", she replied. I was perplexed so couldn't resist myself to probe further into the subject " So, you forgot the pain of giving birth but why on earth you wanted to have a dozen children?? "You see! This was how our lives were, mine and everybody else's. The thing is that we never knew better. We were either busy with our own pregnancies or raising our young children or helping other women in the family going through the same cycle. We had a strong support group within our families. Even our elder children used to help us a lot either by helping in chores or taking care of their younger siblings", she added reassuringly.
Granny got married in post partition era when the dust of forced migration from India had not yet settled. Her in laws were a huge family so they asked their married sons to move out with their families and support themselves. Granny tried to explain, "We were not very rich back then but we had each other back. We were content with our lives." This statement just blew my mind. My granny belonged to a filthy rich family who left everything they had in India. After coming to Pakistan all they got in claim from Government of Pakistan was a decent accommodation. Her father with the help of his sons had to start the business from scratch. My grandfather's family suffered the same fate. I knew they both had to go through much before my grandfather managed to earn a decent living and eventually succeeded in establishing a successful business.
She was telling me they were content at the time when they were practically reduced to nothing after living a much comfortable life which only rich at that time could afford. How come she could stay content when Allah flipped their lives upside down? This was big mystery to me as I was in my early twenties, practically knew nothing but had all the wrong ideas about life. I was a different person back then. If I only knew better that contentment doesn't mean you desire more, it means you' re thankful for what you have and patient for what's to come.
Contentment is natural wealth. Luxury is artificial poverty. He who is not contented with what he has, would never be contented with what he would like to have. – Socrates.
Nassim Nicholes Taleb stated in The Book of Procrustes, "I suspect they put Socrates to death because there is something terribly unattractive, alienating and non-human in thinking with too much clarity". I guess my granny shared some level of that clarity though she was neither very educated nor very well read but a simpleton house wife. She knew that happiness does n 't come as a result of getting something we don 't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
Once we were enjoying chilled mangoes sitting in her courtyard, she said, "Once apples were my favorite fruit now I have switched to mangoes. These mangoes from Sindh are really tasty". I asked, "Why you do not like apples anymore?". "You see! Before Partition back in India my father knowing my love for apples used to send my elder brother and I on a horse ride with a servant all the way to Kullu (a town in India famous for its apples worldwide) to his friend's apple farm. We used to pick fresh apples from the trees and eat out hearts out. I cannot forget that taste and aroma. Apples in Pakistan are nothing compared to those but we have got the best mangoes in the world so now they are my favorite fruit now.
"Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Lao Tzu