Many young people in Singapore live sheltered lives. We are told what to do and when to do it. When we were kids, we were told to conform so we don’t look different from what society expects of us. When we were teenagers, we were told to achieve good grades so that we could get into the best schools. When we started working, we were told to save money for retirement. When we grew older, we were told to get a spouse and start a family. We were told (maybe not directly) that doing and accomplishing these things will make us happy.
It is because of this that we sometimes find emptiness with what we are trying to achieve in life.
Contemplating This Emptiness…
Without being overly philosophical about things, we wonder how we could be living happier lives. After all, we’ve been voted the world’s least happy country in numerous surveys.
We literally typed “the meaning of life” into the Google search bar (not that any of us wanted to end ours) and we found a quote from the Dalai Lama that made a lot of sense to us – “I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy.”
It made sense because when you think about it, what are we living life for if not to be happy in the now, in the past and in the future. In today’s culture, we look to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and other social media channels to find happiness. We see other people on these channels, and they seem happy doing what they’re doing. So we try to do those things to seek the same happiness.
How Money Has Paralysed Us
Our idea of happiness is to mimic how other people define happiness, especially on social media channels.
We rationalize that these people, on social media, must have had a head start in their lives and that is why they’re happy – because money buys happiness. And that’s why they can afford to travel on holidays, go to concerts, buy expensive cars and have big parties all the time.
And we can be happy too…once we save and invest enough. At least, that is what some of us think.
But people like that will always be paralyzed from achieving happiness because they assume things will be easier if they had lots of money. The truth is that people who earn $2,500 a month can find happiness while people who earn $10,000 a month may only find worries.
The problem is that we are splurging money today that we could have been saving and investing for our retirement tomorrow. This spending today prevents us from being happy in the now, because we have so much expense that we have to maintain that we feel like we cannot afford to leave our jobs, to really live out our dreams.
The other way to look at it would be to realize that if your happiness can be derived by how much you can afford to spend on things compared to the people around you, then there would always be someone else on your social network that is richer and thus, happier (based on this logic) than you.
Pursuing happiness means enjoying the work you do, enjoying the company of the people you are with, and yes, occasionally enjoying the finer things in life. If we are happy, it will show in our attitude at work and in the relationships that we have. And this will translate to us becoming a better person in both our workplace and our homes to the people around us.
Happiness is a choice, and not a goal.
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