As we head into the new decade, it’s good to take some time to take a step back and reflect what life has given us thus far… and what it may give in the future.
As I reflect back on my own past decade, I question myself… what have I done that has really made me happy in the past decade? Graduating from university? Landing a job in a big company? Buying myself the new iPhone XS? Or was it climbing the corporate ladder?
Surprisingly the answer is none of the above. Yes, the above did made me happy for awhile… but it was temporary. Happiness that was elevated for awhile and then fell back to the normal mean (mathematical mean). It was the people that did.
I used to think that by having money would solve all problems. I’m not denying that money is an essential tool to survive. But when do you tell yourself, “Hey you, it’s time to stop and smell the flowers. You are giving too much of your own happiness away for money and time, start living before it’s too late.“?
The Monk and The Minister Parable
Two close boyhood friends grew up and went their separate ways. One becomes a humble monk, and the other, a rich and powerful minister to the king.
Years later they meet up again.
As they catch up, the minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin, shabby monk. Seeking to help, he says: “You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”
To which the monk replies: “If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king!”
The World – A Depressing Place?
But there’s no denying that the world today is designed to depress us. Why? Because happiness isn’t good for the economy. Imagine, if we were all happy with what we have, would we want more? Look around you… Why do you want the latest iPhone? Because Apple has made you feel that you are being left behind. Why do you buy insurance? Because insurance companies have ingrained the fear and worry about everything. Why do you buy supplements? Because you have been made to worry about ageing.
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.” – Will Rogers
To be calm and happy with what you have suddenly becomes a rarity. A non-upgraded existence that is now shunned upon. The world is now all about stuff… and lesser about life. Life is what’s left when we take all the crap away… and that’s why our environment is paying the price.
But I get it, when we are at the bottom, we always want to be on the top. No one wants to be at the bottom. We want what others have – more money, being the boss, finally calling the shots – hey who wouldn’t be happier there?
The question is “Is it really like that at the top… or is it just how it looks when you’re standing at the bottom?“.
But sure… being rich is always better. Shit always runs downstream, but there’s a price to pay to get there. Time. Money. Health – mentally and physically. As you gain more, you have more to lose, and more ways to lose it. And stress begins to build up. More stress leads to accelerated aging, more diseases, heart attacks and so on. So really, is it worth it?
My take is, get back in control. It’s time to redeem on how and what makes you happy. The way to achieve happiness is often not in the hands of others… but rather in the hands of your own. Often, because we think that others will judge, so we take and give that bit of happiness away, and put it in the hands of others. In reality, the others do not care, and those who do, are those that share your ups and downs together. Hence, care a little less, be you, and get back the happiness that you forgone so far… it’s time to get back in control.
And that’s how I am going to start this decade… get back in control and to live life happier.