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Is LeBron James Satisfied?

July 11, 2010

LeBron James

Last Thursday, LeBron James announced he was going to play basketball for the Miami Heat. It is reported he will be paid $110 million over six years with this contract. To put it a different way, he will earn in one quarter of a basketball game what I earn in an entire year. I would have to work more than 350 years to earn what LeBron will earn in one season. My wife, who works part time, will have to work more than 700 years to earn what LeBron will next season.

It is easy to see that number and believe that LeBron will find happiness just like every other professional athlete or movie star. But, when one digs a little deeper they find out this is not always the case. In the NFL the minimum required salary is between $300,000 and $400,000 a year. Even with this generous salary, 78 percent of players are bankrupt or in severe financial distress within two years of retirement.

 While LeBron was announcing his decision on the highest-rated cable show of the week, I was reading the book, “Have a Little Faith.” In it, Author Mitch Albom is asked by his rabbi to give his eulogy. Albom wandered from the faith a little, but still agreed to do it.  For close to 10 years, Albom frequently visited the rabbi to visit about the rabbi’s life, as well as his own.

One part of the book that really struck me was a discussion between Albom and the rabbi about the secret of happiness. Albom writes:

So have we solved the secret of happiness?

“I believe so,” he said.

Are you going to tell me?

“Yes.  Ready?”

Ready

“Be satisfied.”

That’s it?

“Be grateful.”

That’s it?

“For what you have.  For the love you receive.  And for what God has given you.”

That’s it?

He looked me in the eye.  Then he sighed deeply.  “That’s it.”

As the cliché goes, money does not buy happiness. I believe this to be true. It does not take a lot of money to be satisfied or grateful. Sometimes, having more money actually lowers one’s satisfaction and appreciation with what he or she has.

That is not to say you should not strive to do well and make a profit, whether it is working for someone else or running your own business. But when you find success financially, remember that is not the key. The key is to be satisfied and grateful for what you have.

Financial security will help give you satisfaction way beyond any material goods you could ever want. When you are not worried creditors harassing you, being one small accident away from disaster, or if you are not sure where the next month’s mortgage payment is coming from, it can be more difficult to be satisfied, thankful and have peace in your life. By mastering your finances, you and your family can enjoy a very comfortable life.

The idea of being satisfied and grateful was reinforced to me this last week as my wife cleaned out the basement storage area of the home we have lived in more than two years. When she went downstairs, she had found a lot of stuff we had never unpacked – of which was wet due to the heavy rains we have had.

While we were disappointed some pictures and old cards were ruined, we also were thankful to throw stuff away that we did not really want or need. We know we will not miss the stuff. We know that things do not provide happiness. Being content and secure does.

Making the decision to not buy things we do not need has never been easier for us. We are planning a garage sale in the near future to get rid of everything that the water did not touch. And one thing is for sure – that basement will never be filled up again. One garage and three dumpsters full was more than enough to convince us of that.

 As Personal Finance Expert Suze Orman says, “People first. Then money. Then things.” I hope you will take this advice to heart. I hope you will master your finances, and be content in your life.

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