Of wealth and wellness

As the first week of 2013 begins, I feel heartened by the knowledge this year will get better.

As the first week of 2013 begins, I feel heartened by the knowledge this year will get better.

Of course, it may get worse as well, but with a nasty head cold setting in, and my nasal passages seemingly being stretched with pressure somewhat like a balloon set to explode, I’m hoping for at least an improvement in the short term.

But as with the beginning of any new year, this one holds promise and excitement, with nothing but possibilities ahead.

Sure there will be disappointments, but there will also be joy, and it is the promise of the unexpected which can give everyone a little feeling of hope and anticipation.

There will be an election in B.C., a decision on the Northern Gateway Pipeline, and yet another federal budget.

And there is always the relentless talk about resolutions, and most of us make some, or at least have some ideas of what we might like to change – getting fit, thin, healthy, and wealthy being some of the most common.

It was over the holidays when I got to thinking about this, and about how we create a certain image we strive toward for both wealth and health.

A friend over the holidays was mentioning how she wanted to lose weight, and how she was looking at photos and remembering how when she was younger she wanted to lose 20 or 30 pounds, and now she can’t imagine how she even could have and she would be so happy to be the weight she was then.

How fickle time can be, changing one ideal to another, always with the shifting version of “perfect” just out of reach.

Another friend I was visiting with was telling me about her life plans, progress and happiness levels in her life and how she cared far too much about what other people thought. Her concern over other’s opinions was a handicap limiting her ability to get on with her life and her art.

Then I was listening to CBC and they were previewing the program Under the Influence with Terry O’Reilly about the power of shame in marketing. The blurb called shame “the most lucrative selling strategy of all time.”

Is it not amazing how something like marketing campaigns, probably thought up relatively innocently enough to sell a product in the fifties and sixties, could be having such profound impacts on our everyday lives?

Shame being the reason we spend extensive time and money removing body hair, wearing deodorant, shopping for the latest fashions and having our teeth whitened.

Shame makes lightening cream a major cosmetic industry in Asia, where the lighter the skin the better, and self-tanning a major industry in North America – heaven forbid we look too pasty or winter-white.

And all of these desires to fit in and meet these “ideals” lead to money-making businesses which then once again market these images even harder.

This got me to thinking about the happiest people I know, and what makes me think they are so happy.

You know what none of them had a lot of?

Money. And what they had they were not spending in pursuit of an image.

Now this isn’t to say rich people can not be happy, but I do not think it is a prerequisite, and so many people seem to be working their whole lives and hoping desperately for the golden ring of financial independence.

I worked at a very exclusive fly-fishing resort for six years where most of the clientele were millionaires or greater, we had the actor Michael Keaton, Yvonne Chouinard , founder and owner of Patagonia clothing, and many others far wealthier. I can tell you some of the clients seemed very happy, and many seemed not happy at all, probably in the same proportion as you and I.

They had the same worries we all do, with their peer group having simply higher standards to live up to.

While it would make many things easier in some ways, it is not a fix-all, and if a person spends their entire life waiting for it to happen, their life might just pass them by.

This could also be said for losing weight.

So many of us in thin-obsessed North America want nothing more than to hit their “ideal” weight.

But a better approach than worrying about it so much is usually to get out an enjoy the mobility you have, and take advantage of the time you have as much as possible.

Whether or not you ever hit the mark on the scale, you are bound to be much more content with yourself in general if you are making the most of your time and enjoying yourself.