I have learned this when I first picked up photography. It was a life lesson I wish I had sooner. It is different from ‘be contented and be happy‘. That is reactive. This is proactive.
Our life is defined by constraints. Operate within them, you’ll be happy. Operate outside them, you’d feel unfulfilled.
Take photography as an example. Every camera, every piece of equipment, no matter how good they are, there are limitations beyond which, it won’t do. The camera body dictates the image resolution (amongst other things). Your printed photos may look great up to a certain size, like A3. But they won’t look good if you are to enlarge it and cover part of a building. You may need a very good sensor. Or film camera to get that done.
Your lens may have an f-stop to enable you handheld, take a still picture at night, and still look good. But to have higher quality, you would need a tripod. At times, even a tripod won’t do such as photographing animals at night. That would be a combination of a camera body, an f-stop or even vibration reduction telephoto lens, and a monopod.
You may have a telephoto lens that allows you to take great animal pictures during daylight. But that lens won’t do if you want to take sports photos or cosmic pictures.
It is to know the limitation of the camera body and the lens and the external conditions in order to take great photographs. Photographs that you are happy with. Don’t take pictures that beyond what your equipment can do. And it is always about compromise or balancing between different constraints (e.g. lower the quality for sharpness). Actively pursuing that and working within the boundaries of your limitation creates great photographs. Everyone can take great photos with what we have, even with a phone. Try to take photos beyond what our equipment can do stops us from taking photos.
Similar to life, we have constraints and tradeoffs. We cannot have everything. Yes, we could ponder upon the what-ifs. But this is the moment. Today is the day. Time moves forward and we live for today. If we can proactively live our life within the limitations we have, making the best out of what we have – and if we can do that, I believe, is how happiness is attained.
First step is, know your constraints. Second step is, tradeoff wisely.