On a recent family holiday to Abel Tasman National Park I was out swimming in the sea, when I felt something slipping away from me. No, not my togs.
It was my wedding ring.
As it fell off my finger I took a swipe at it with my other hand, only to catch water.
I spent the next 15 minutes underwater in freezing temperatures trying to find it, but trying to find a gold wedding band among golden sand was a mission impossible.
At this point I was extremely disappointed in myself. Lambasting myself for not taking the ring off before going out for a swim. Yes, the monetary loss stinks, but it is what the ring represents that upset me the most. Or so I thought.
I came to realise that what the ring represents has not gone at all. I am still married. I still love my wife. This hasn’t changed as a result of losing the ring. It is not the ring that represents our lives together, it is everything else.
I could have dwelled on this mistake (accident?) for weeks or months. But what good does that do?
The event had already happened. The ring had gone. Nothing I could do could change that. Excuse the pun, but it was a sunk cost.
After a short period of disappointment, I chose to stop dwelling on the loss and move forward. It was a deliberate choice that I had made. The loss has occurred. Get a new ring and move on.
If I chose the other path where I was dwelling on this for weeks, or even months, then I would have been miserable. Perhaps, the misery would have started affecting other areas of my life and other decisions I was making. Because I would have been so upset, my work performance, or even marriage may have started suffering.
In both paths, I am without a ring. So, I may as well choose the path of least resistance.
I think the main goal in life for most people is to be happy and content. A lot of how we achieve this is the way in which we react to unfortunate circumstances.
In my younger years I would easily be wound up by reckless drivers or impolite people. It would build up my anger and sometimes fester away at me for hours or days.
Whether it was bad drivers or rude people, it was factors OUTSIDE of me affecting my mood and impacting on my financial decisions.
I would then seek things such as eating out, or buying too much house as ways of trying to bring in happiness.
This is a no win scenario. Outside forces can never bring long term happiness. If I lost the ring when I was at this younger stage of my life, I wouldn’t have responded so well. This was the old me.
The updated version of me finds joy from within. I am thankful every day for what I already have in my life. I am not seeking more.
Bad drivers and rude people are unfortunately a given in life. I can’t escape that and neither can you. I can escape my bad reactions to these events though. As soon as I realised that these things are as inevitable as the NZ Warriors inconsistency, I learned not to dwell on them. I have been much more content with life as a result.
Losing a wedding ring may not be an inevitable occurrence, but my previous years of practicing gratitude and responding positively to negative events has helped me through this bad experience.
I lost a ring, but I still have my life, wife and family. I’m healthy and earning income. If we can all stop chasing happiness from the outside and be grateful for what we have, we will not only be happier people but we won’t have a need to spend so much money.
The best things in life really are free.
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