“Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.”
― Albert Einstein, physicist
“… I want my life back…like it was before!”
Tim was a 65 year old retired, plump, motor mechanic. He had ran his own business for many years, and done well. He offered good service at a reasonable price and was proud of his customers’ loyalty to him and his staff. He had sold his shop about ten years earlier at a good profit. Now he was enjoying time with his wife and family, with both children and grandchildren.
Elizabeth, his wife for over thirty years, enjoyed good health while he was perpetually sick. Tim had a long history of medical challenges, none of which were very serious, but most of which, were very annoying to him. They included some allergies, recurring back pain (from laying on the ground repairing machines) and seasonal bronchitis. They had bugged Tim because they got in the way of his life and especially his work. And, he often complained, that staying healthy was like having a second…but unpaid, job.
When he arrived for his first consultation Tim was angry. He had recently had his first serious health challenge…triple bypass. Once we got acquainted, and I had collected the information noted above, I asked him what had motivated him to contact me?
He replied, “I’ve always thought psychology…psychologist and psychiatrists… are supposed to help people get happier…I just want to be happy…I want my life back…like it was before!”
“‘psychology’ originally meant “the study of the soul!”
“Tim, most people think of psychology as the study of the human mind. But the origins of the word ‘psychology’ suggest otherwise. The word ‘psychology’ goes back to at least the 1500’s with the work of the scholar, Melanchthon. Back then, it was used in its original context based on its’ Greek origins. The word “psyche” means ‘the soul” and “ology” mean “to study.” So, ‘psychology’ originally meant, “the study of the soul!”
“Ken, are you telling me studying psychology, or using a psychologist or psychiatrist, will not make me happier?” he asked.
“Tim, that’s something only you can decide…I’m suggesting it may not be in their job description or their field of expertise. I would also suggest getting happier may only be your job…no one else’s!”
“Well, all I know is, since my bypass surgery, I have been miserable. I’m discouraged, fed-up and angry…just when I have some time and money to be happy I get blindsided with a triple bypass. How fair is that, I wanna know?” he said, clearly exasperated.
“These sound like new forms of old blessings.”
“Tim, what are the three critical ingredients for you to be happy?” I asked.
Tim thought for a moment and then retorted, “My health, my family and my golfing buddies!”
“So which of these is missing for you right now?”
“Well, my health is in the pits; my family are worrying themselves sick over me and, my buddies keep visiting as if I‘m on my death bed.”
“So what’s missing?” I asked him again.
He looked at me totally befuddled. I went on.
“Tim, you have a renewed level of health with your recent bypass surgery; your family are giving you more attention than usual and your friends are showing their appreciation for you during your recent recovery. These sound like new forms of old blessings.”
“Yes Ken, that’s probably true…but I want the old forms back…when all I had were allergies to bug me and my family let me eat whatever I wanted, and my friends and I would joke around about our golf game…instead of discussing whether we have a ‘living will.’”
“So, Tim you want things to stay the same…the way they were, eh?”
“Yes, Ken! That’s it exactly…I want things the way they were before!”
“There is a glaring fee in a freebee that most of the people, more often than not, fail to see.”
Anuj Somany, author
“Were you ever given something that didn’t come with an equal cost in some form?”
“Then I have two questions for you which may be helpful. Tim, you were a successful business man for many years…do you ever remember a time when your business wasn’t changing…adjusting to the demands of your customers and your industry?”
Tim paused before responding. Then he said, “No, I guess not Ken, because we were forever fine tuning our services to be competitive. It was a constant challenge to stay on top of our game.”
“Second question Tim, in all your years of business success, do you ever recall getting something for nothing? Were you ever given something that didn’t come with an cost in some way? Did you ever get a benefit without an equal cost?”
Again Tim was thoughtful for a few minutes before he responded.
“Ken, I remember the time one of my best customers brought in a bottle of champagne for my staff who had managed to find a part for his old, exotic car…but two of my mechanics had spend several hours searching the internet for that part. It was a fair trade for their extra work. And, I recall one year the ‘free’ leather jackets my staff received from one of our main suppliers as a token of their gratitude for all our business…again, a fair exchange.”
“…there is a perfection to it…something you wouldn’t want any other way!”
“That’s exactly what I’m referring to, Tim. There is always a fair exchange at every moment of giving and receiving for everyone. Can you think of any exceptions in your life…at any time?” I asked him carefully.
Again he paused, and searched more. Then, he said, “Well…there was the time I won $500 because I completed a 5 minute survey and one person’s name was drawn from all the participants for the prize. But looking back now…I waited over four weeks for the cheque, and it was so frustrating and distracting watching and waiting until it finally arrived. I spent a lot of time and energy to get that money! And, when it arrived, I really didn’t feel like I had gained more than I had spent, getting it.”
“Tim, the same principle applies to your current health, family and friends. You have had a health crisis but can you see how it has brought you closer to yourself, your family and your friends?”
“Yes, I can see that now given what we have discussed. But are you saying it applies all the time?”
“Yes Tim, I am! And, I’m also suggesting there is a perfection to it…something you wouldn’t want any other way!” I added.
“How do you mean?” he asked, clearly uncertain where this was heading.
“Tim, if it was possible…would you give up being more health conscious, being closer to your family and the loyalty of your friends, to not having had your heart incident?”
Tim was surprised by the question, and his eyes wandered off to his right and watered lightly, as he pondered it. Then, quickly, he said, “No Ken, I wouldn’t! I am more careful now about my health…I got a new lease on life; and I also realize my family really do care about me…I didn’t always notice or appreciate that when I was working…and my buddies…I appreciate them more now too! So…really…no mistakes from my perspective…it was perfect…for me!”
“So, Tim maybe studying your ‘soul’ will do more to grow your appreciation for yourself and others and this would be a more accurate and true meaning of psychology, eh?”
“I like that, Ken!” he replied with a soft, knowing smile.
Once Tim had uncovered the two sides to his life, his anger and frustration were gone. He was wiser and stronger…more ready for his future, whatever that future entailed!
“Our challenges only serve to grow our appreciation of life!”
― King Ayles, author
Until Next time…
So, now you can start looking carefully into the pleasure of every pain in your life and, thereby, raise your appreciation for yourself and others.
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