Monday, February 25, 2013

All change

I heard something profound yesterday. Just a comment, in passing, from an ordinary guy on the TV who was talking about how lucky he was in his job as Liaison Officer at St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, England.

His name is Pete Hamilton and the words he used were; "I wouldn't change a thing about my life." He then seemed a bit taken aback by his rather weighty statement and said " hang on a minute, let me just think about that... No, it's true; I wouldn't change a thing about my life." Then we saw a shot of him with (I think) his baby daughter in his arms.

St Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Cornwall England
Photo courtesy of

It was such a small moment but it had a huge impact on me. I can't stop thinking about it - imagine being able to honestly say that you wouldn't change ANYTHING about your life? It's kind of a bit mind-blowing.
Of course it started me thinking about what I'd change about my life. Given this blog, it's no surprise that living more simply, free of debt and with time to do more of what makes me happy remain top of the list.

But even if all of those things were in place, would I/could I say that I wouldn't change a thing? So much of what Pete Hamilton said is down to attitude. Sure, he lives and works in a beautiful village, he's recently married and has just started a family, exciting times all round. But I got the sense that he's a content sort of person, that not leaving the area he has grown up in was a conscious choice to be happy with his lot rather than a lack of opportunity or ambition. That financial considerations are way down his list of priorities and that his greatest joy is found in the simplest things.

I mention his having stayed near his childhood home because I wonder if my own desire to live and work abroad (more than once) is indicative of a "grass is greener" mentality and thus a mindset destined to disappoint? Had I stayed in my hometown I'm pretty confident that I'd be living a simpler life; debt-free (or at least without the huge expenses the move necessitated) and with lots of time to do more of what makes me happy. Family support, a career uninterrupted by further study, a home bought earlier and some bad decisions unmade would have made that possible.

It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that I regret moving to Australia (or the Netherlands, an earlier adventure) or any of the travel I have experienced since I was 18 years old. I’m a firm believer in the idea that “the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” (St. Augustine) so staying in my hometown was never a realistic option for me. Not to mention the fact that I would have missed out on some amazing experiences and very special friends and but still... I wonder if my desire for “different” has in some ways limited my ability to enjoy the “everyday”.

So how do I make Mr. Hamilton’s statement true for me here and now? What steps do I take to find contentment in what is, instead of being distracted by what could be or what might have been?

I know I need to keep going with the things I put in motion when I started this blog. But what else? Have you done it? Are you one of the lucky few who wouldn't change a thing about your life? Are you working towards your own state of contentment? Please share your ideas!


  1. What a great post R. I think some people are definitely blessed with contented dispositions. But there again, they are rarely the people who make great leaps or move the world forward, so we need both the contented and the malcontent to make us whole, socially speaking.

    For me I guess I know I'll never be in a position to say I wouldn't change a single thing. I'm always dreaming and moving forward to the next step in life and I'm happy to be that way. So maybe one can be content NOT to be content, too!

  2. Thanks Kris, I love the idea of being content not to be content! I have always embraced my wanderlust and desire to move forward in the past. Perhaps I am just having a wobble as I'm furiously nesting at the moment and it has made me yearn for simplicity and security.

  3. I think our levels of contentment have correlation with living according to whatever our personal values are, and being able to enjoy activities/relationships etc which we deem to hold meaning in our lives. Everything else - really nice filler!

    I find the saying 'comparison is the thief of joy' to be true for me. I am actually reasonably content most of the time, but when I feel a bit green-eyed (Like seeing someone's awesome newly renovated home in the country) , I can tend to forget all the blessings and amazing things going on in my own life. I find that a sure slippery slope to feeling discontent!

    But, In answer to your question - basic shit like gratitude lists (i do this daily on an iphone app so its easy) , writing in my journal, mindfulness practises via yoga/meditation - those are practical things that help me find contentment again when it seems to have wandered from me.


  4. Becks I think a gratitude journal could be a really good idea for me, I need to refocus and count my blessings. I also think I need to move house. Not to the "dream home" which is years away for us but to somewhere that better supports the way we want to live as a family. This place is nice but it's sapping my mojo man.

  5. Stumbling across a blog about ones self is a strange experience and certainly a new one for me but I hope you don't mind if I share my thoughts....
    I am delighted that my statement has provoked some discussion. The main thing I want to say is that I am incredibly aware of just how lucky and privileged I am to find myself living in a beautiful part of the world (where I was lucky to enough to be born and raised) and working in a job which fulfils me. That said, not wanting to change anything doesn't mean I lack ambition - there are places I hope to visit and things I long to see in the world, and I hope my career progresses and continues to excite and challenge me. It's just that I am happy for these things to happen when they happen. I don't own my own home but would like to - does that mean I would change where I live now? No, I am confident that my path is set and my goals will be achieved along the way. There is no secret to my contentment other than a realisation that happiness is not having what you want, it is wanting what you have. Easy for me to say living on the Cornish coast with a wonderful family but there it is.
    Pete x

  6. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond Pete. It must be slightly surreal to discover that people on the other side of the world are talking about you but I'm glad to say it's all positive! I really enjoyed your story and was taken with your obvious sense of contentment. As I wrote in my post, it was clear that it had nothing to do with lack of ambition and everything to do with you choosing a happy state of mind. I often think of your words when I find myself dissatisfied with the speed at which I'm moving forward and take a moment to remind myself how lucky I am to live this life with such wonderful friends and family. You put it perfectly when you say it's about wanting what you have. I have no doubt that many more good things are headed your way and I'm sure you'll appreciate and enjoy it all. Thanks for inspiring me to do the same!
    Rachel x
    PS St Michael's Mount looks absolutely stunning and I have more than a smidge of career envy!