Not long ago I was idling at a stop sign and a billboard on an overpass caught my eye. It was from Citibank. I read it. “He who dies with the most toys….is still dead! Live richly!”

I read it again. The words didn’t change. Continuing my trip, I contemplated the message I had just received. “He who dies with the most toys…is still dead! Seems to make a lot of sense; perhaps bordering on the poignant. Death, being inevitable and all, should help us realize that our accumulation of “toys” is moot, at best, and pointless, at worst. As they say back home, “You can’t take it with you.”

But then the billboard does a 360. “Live richly!” it proclaims. Silly me. For a minute, I thought that Citibank was expanding its investment concerns to include investing into meaningful life ventures. Might as well use our limited time here productively. But, no such luck. Instead we are implored to make loads of cash and spend it. “Live richly!” Indeed!

A great man once said, “Everyone seems to be searching for the City of Happiness. What they don’t realize is that it can only be found in the state of mind.”

When we stop to think about it, we all know this is true. The problem is, we just don’t stop to think about it. And now, more than ever, we seek fortune instead of satisfaction, fame instead of self-respect, success instead of contentment. We get so caught up in accumulating the most toys, that we lose sight of our true goals. We forget that success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.

We must each take a deep hard look at ourselves and ask: “Where am I coming from?”

Excerpt from an article written by Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, C.S.W. is a noted psychotherapist, in private practice in Brooklyn, N.Y. for over 25 years.

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