We often become obsessed with owning the perfect vehicle, wearing the trendiest brand of clothing, and vacationing at exotic destinations. For people who have encountered a disaster in their lives, their focus and attitude change. Suddenly, all this “stuff” doesn’t matter. Their perspective shifts to more concrete things in life: their happiness, health, and family – to name a few treasures.
Richard Smelski, a farmer in the Shakespeare, Ontario area with over 35 years of agribusiness experience provided permission to reprint his article which appeared in Better Pork’s February edition. Hakuna matata: A good philosophy for life is an interesting read that provides a different look on life.
|Enjoy the moment, for few can appreciate the beauties.|
Hakuna matata: a good philosophy for life
By Richard Smelski
As farmers and pork producers, we face a number of challenges and stressors. But, we also have a number of blessings and opportunities. Enjoy the moment.
Hakuna matata ("Hakuna matata" is a Swahili phrase, roughly translated "don't worry, be happy") was made famous through the animated movie The Lion King. What do you believe - that happiness comes from within you or is it imposed upon you? Is happiness an inward or exterior response?
“Bill” is a pork producer, friend, and mentor of mine. In my usual pursuit of the definition of success, I asked him, “How can you always be so composed, relaxed and deliberate in everything you do?”
Very quickly he replied, “Twenty years ago I was in a car accident. I was broadsided – I was in the driver’s seat - five ribs broken, bleeding spleen and I couldn’t breathe. I knew I was going to die and for those few moments, I sat there thinking, ‘If only I can live, I would always enjoy what I am doing.’ And then I took a breath.”
Bill manages a very successful farrow-to-finish operation, 1,100 acres cash crop operation, and he volunteers a lot. He’s very successful, very generous and - most of all - fun to be with. He has no desire to be the biggest, the best or the wealthiest, although I think he ranks among the top in each category. He enjoys life and the pork business gives him the opportunity to do so.
Bill now enjoys a balance in his life - how many can say the same? Does it take a disaster to realize the true blessings in life?
The pig industry, similar to many industries, is rapidly adapting to respond to concerns of advocacy groups, labour challenges, price fluctuations, regulation overloads, family challenges, and health concerns – to name a few influences.
Because these crises become standard in our business, does not mean that they need to be a standard for our attitude. Remember the dictionary definition of stress: force applied that strains or deforms the initial shape. If you cannot accept the new shape and enjoy it, the stress can break you.
It’s your choice to enjoy the stress and smile or not. Enjoyment leads to success, not the reverse.
Die Broke by Stephen Pollan, a great book that changed my life, proposes we should forget the idea of spending our entire lives saving and investing with the idea of idyllic retirement on a beach somewhere. His key principles are: quit today, pay cash, don’t retire and die broke. “The last cheque you write should be to the undertaker -- and it should bounce,” says Pollan.
Spend your money while you’re alive. The practice of accumulating a pile of money to pass on to your children is built on the mistaken notion that money has value in and of itself. The reality is that money is a tool; it is a means to an end. Spend your money while you can appreciate it. Plus, giving a pile of money to your kids can ruin them. Money or assets might be left to children or grandchildren at key points of need so the giver as well as receiver can both enjoy the gift.
Enjoy the moment, for few can appreciate the beauties that farmers take for granted. Nature surrounds us and we only need to look around to appreciate it.
You work in one of the most notable and worthy businesses – producing food. Pork producers are blessed with the opportunity to work in a transparent industry where farmers share their production techniques, innovations, health protocols, and labour- saving ideas readily. We take our blessings for granted.
If you couldn’t breathe, would you wish for anything different than what you are doing right now? Hakuna matata.