The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a homemaker in my early 60s. I still live in a rented house at my age and have amassed only modest savings. I’m envious of my rich acquaintances.
I have nothing to complain about regarding my daily life. My daughters got married long ago. I’m blessed with grandchildren. My husband lives separately from me because of his job. Friends and neighbors tell me things like, “I’m jealous that you get to take care of grandchildren.”
In fact, however, it’s me who is full of envy and jealousy.
A friend who inherited her parents’ property is financially at ease, with income from rental apartment units and parking lots. A married woman nearby lives in a large house and frequently makes overseas trips.
It’s gotten to the point that I feel comfort when I hear about someone who has become ill or gotten into an accident. I read books on philosophy and religion and admonish myself to stay “satisfied with my lot in life,” as the saying goes.
It’s been my dream to own my own home because ever since childhood I’ve only lived in rental units. I’ve worked hard at part-time jobs my whole life, only to fail to save enough money because my expenditures kept piling up.
Should I be satisfied with my life now? Or can I realize my dream if I start working desperately from this moment on?
T, Osaka Prefecture
Dear Ms. T:
You are now in your early 60s. It’s certainly still possible for you to buy your own house if you work very hard. An acquaintance of mine moved to the countryside in her 60s and bought a secondhand house for several million yen. It depends on how serious and enthusiastic you are about your dream and how much you can convince your husband of it.
However, our excitement over our dreams tends to subside once we make them come true. We often wonder where the feeling has gone.
Let me tell you my experience. I dreamed of making a trip to a certain country. One day, I was lucky enough to visit that country by joining a group tour. I was surprised, however, to find that many of the other participants had joined so many group tours and traveled to so many countries that they had almost nowhere left they wanted to visit. They told me they most enjoyed watching me and how excited I felt about anything I encountered on the tour.
I don’t know why, but no matter what the circumstances people’s initial feeling of happiness seems to quickly fade away. You say you are tortured by feelings of jealousy and envy and feel comfort when you hear about someone who is unhappy. It seems you are just wasting your precious life.
I think it’s unnecessary to focus too much on the expression “be satisfied with your lot in life.” I believe there are in fact many people who are envious of you, since you can afford to seek advice for this kind of matter.
Megumi Hisada, writer