Winning 001: Take your pick–Be envious, or be contented

“You can either envy or be content. You cannot have both.” –P. Manaloto

The damage caused by Aman Futures unto some 15,000 victims of its pyramiding scheme in Mindanao has been the screaming news headline recently. The usual reaction of unaffected people is this: “What? Again?!”

Pyramiding schemes have been happening in cycles for the last 150 years when money became the standard of value.  It is just like a wave in the ocean that calms and rolls back —even  bigger, resembling a tsunami.  But, why did this scam happen again?  Why is it that educated people, bankers, financiers, businessmen, politicians, government technocrats and overseas Filipino workers were enticed again despite knowing that “quick rich” schemes can never be sustained.

The explanation lies in the power of envy.  Envy is such a strong emotion that while it can release positive attitudes of hard work, it also pushes one to go beyond what is logical and moral, just to keep up with the competition.  It is not impossible that, at first, many of these investors were keeping away from the agents of this scheme. But eventually, seeing material change in the lives of those who invested erases the veil of doubt, then envy sets in.  It is incredible how envy had destroyed so many lives, dreams and futures.

The Biblical antidote to envy is contentment.  As Manaloto wrote, you cannot have both envy and contentment.  Contentment is difficult because it is relative.  What may be few to one can be plenty for another.  Thus, finding contentment hinges on one’s values and understanding of how much one should have.

A practical way to determine contentment is to answer these questions. One, how many pair of shoes do you have?  Two, how many shirts or pants that you have but you have not used for the past 3 months? And three, how many mobile phones, television sets, computers, and gadgets do you own then how much time do you spend for each of them?

As we approach the Christmas season (“the season of giving”), let us look at the excesses of our lives.  Our excesses maybe the needs or wants of others.  I strongly suggest that one way to have a contented life is to limit the number of cabinets in your house.  Cabinets are nice since they keep things temporarily, not store things you do not use anymore.

Also, plan a bi-annual garage sale because things that you have not used for six months have to go.  Change the culture of may gagamit pa ito (there’s still use for this) and pwede pa itong itago (this can be kept).  Price your stuff at most affordable rates, then put a value unto these even if they’re cheap.

Let go of the old before buying the new.  Let this be our goal for 2013.  The only way to overcome envy is to enjoy and be contented with the less that you have.  As you go on shopping for the Christmas season, the best gifts are possibly in your cabinets, storage boxes, and book shelves.

Most of all, share your excesses this Christmas because He who did not spare His own Son will be able to give us more than what we ask or imagine.  Have a Christ-centered Christmas!