Medicine Wheel: Identity (Experiences over Possessions)

Everyone wants happiness, but how does one truly become happy? How does one find out what brings them happiness? How does one cherish their happiness for the years to come? Yes, happiness may be subjective but there tends to be a universal cause of happiness that can be felt by everyone and I’ll be telling you what that cause is, through a story of two men. These two men were the same and yet different in many ways. These two men had different views of happiness and the things required to make them truly be happy…

One of them was the richest and most respected person on earth. This man had everything; he had more money than all the grains of sand on this planet, more houses and cars than the average amount of hair on someone’s head, and more possessions than the number of words in the American constitution. Everything about him was kingly; he lived like a king, ate like a king, spoke like a king, dressed like a king and even went to a school fit for a king. However, like many others, he valued his riches more than anything, even more than his own life. Every day, this man spent money on things he thought would show off his wealth and success, things he thought would make him better than others, — things he thought would bring him happiness.

The other man couldn’t have been more different. He lived on the streets and ate less food than we throw out a day, but he was fine with that. He wasn’t educated and only owned the clothes on his back, but he was fine with that. He came from a decent family yet gave up everything just to live life to its fullest and he was more than fine with that. He helped people and wanted nothing in return because doing that helped him see the light of every dark day. Everything that he had done in life was to live for the experiences and not the goods. He lived for the things that no one could take away from him, things that would stay with him for his entire life, — things that brought him happiness.

As both men grew older, their search for happiness had become an obsession; money was spent while memories were created. But one terrible winter had brought terminal illnesses upon both men and their quests had come to a halt. As they laid on their deathbed, they thought back to the things that made whole and happy. The rich man thought back to all his money and belongings, none of which he had with him. He slowly realized that he wouldn’t be able to cherish his possessions because they had no actual meaning. On the other hand, the poor man was thinking of the people he helped, the things he experienced and learned, each having a special place in his heart. He remembered all the things that made him laugh and cry, all the things that made him appreciate life, all the things that made him happy.

That night, a single tear streaked down both of their faces. These two tears were the same and yet different in many ways. They were the last tears of both men, but one was of sadness … and the other was of joy.

“Men are not great or small because of their material possessions. They are great or small because of what they are.” – James Cash Penny