Abby: Contented life doesn’t seem normal by comparison

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips
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Dear Abby: I’m 45, employed and earning plenty of money. I’m in a great relationship, my kids and grandkids are healthy and happy, and my parents are alive and well. I enjoy the small things in life, fishing, reading, the beach, mini vacations, bowling, etc. I raise funds to feed the homeless.

So what’s my problem, you ask? Abby, I’m not really sure what my purpose is in life or if the way my life is is normal. I feel content — even happy at times — but I’m troubled because it seems a lot of people do the exact opposite of what I am doing and they all have a purpose. Some of them are going to school, raising kids, having relationship problems, money issues, etc. They seem to be doing so much, and I feel like I’m doing so little.

What is normal for my age? Should I be doing more? Most times I feel happy, but on a day like today I feel unfulfilled. Do I need to do more?

What Is Normal?

Dear What: Doing so little? Count your blessings! You hold a job, have a family I presume you regularly interact with, have a great relationship, hobbies you enjoy and help those who have less than you. I’d say you are productive and successful.

However, if YOU think you need to do more, then it’s possible you do. Take some time, decide what it is and reallocate your time if you feel you need something more to fulfill you. But please stop measuring yourself by anyone else’s yardstick, because people who do that are rarely happy.

Dear Abby: I am in my mid-20s and have a close relationship with my mother. She always struggled to make ends meet, but has recently come into greater financial security.

For some time I have been embarrassed about her stingy habits when it comes to splitting the check in group situations. She’ll often divide costs unfairly and rely on the generosity of her fellow diners to cover her share. I don’t want to embarrass her at the table, but I’m uncomfortable apologizing for her after the fact.

Now that I’m older, I feel responsible in these situations, but I know money is a sensitive topic for her. How can I talk Mom into correcting her behavior so we can salvage relationships important to both of us?

Kelly in New York

Dear Kelly: You shouldn’t embarrass your mother in front of others. But you should have a private talk with her and express your feelings.

The frugal habits of a lifetime can be hard to break, even if there is a windfall later in life. But if you feel relationships are being destroyed because of what she is doing, then you should tell her and give her some examples. That’s the only hope you have of convincing her to change.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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