I’m probably too young to be writing on this topic but observing countless souls distressed by daily life made me think hard on what is that really matters in life. Undoubtedly, there are happy and sad phases and that’s part-and-parcel of life. But what I’m really bothered about is general, daily bitching about how miserable one’s life has become. You find people complaining about work, commute, relationships, other people’s attitudes & personalities, neighbor’s barking dog, lack of parking space, and, heck, some people also feel stressed about how they are unable to install latest iPhone update. Yes, I’m concerned about those people. Are these things really worth stressing about? Allow me to analyze.
What doesn’t matter in life
Let’s start off by observing what doesn’t matter in life and why. Life would be much better and satisfying if everyone could do away with (or at least de-prioritizes following) two aspects:
- Material possessions: countless sages have professed it and I completely with them that material possessions are source of most of the stress we face in our daily lives. Modern technology (and compulsion to keep up with it) only makes it much worse. Your car radiator broke down, your phone screen got a crack, you are unable to install USB drivers, or your expensive massage chair needs maintenance. Possessions end up taking over your daily life and you don’t even realize that. Wouldn’t you be much happier and free if you need not bother about constant purchasing, maintaining and discarding of possessions? I’m not advocating complete asceticism but my point here is that it is OK to be still using Windows 98. It is OK to travel by bus or taxi, and not having that fancy car. It is even OK if you don’t posses a phone (or if you have poor network provider, like mine — MTNL). It is OK to be like a free bird without any heavy baggage of material possessions.
- Ego: the number 1 stress factor you have in your life is no-one but you. The compulsive drive to prove yourself right (and others wrong), the obsession with (financially) outdoing your peers, neighbors & friends, the depression about how you couldn’t score 100% in math exam, the fights over how the wall is painted with the wrong shade of blue, and anger over how a friend misplaced your favorite book. Source of tension and stress in all these situations is not society or the other person you are fighting with, but it is you. In long run, do these little ego fights really matter? Are you enriching your life by these ego fights where either you or someone else ends up feeling bad? Wouldn’t it be much better for all if you started giving less importance to yourself? Maybe it is hard, but just try living a day making yourself unimportant and your life will be much more satisfying (as you can kick your ego aside and you can focus on what really matters in life — see below).
What matters in life
I have observed that following two aspects enrich one’s life and makes it worth living. What are these two things that matter in life?
- Experiences: seeking out new experiences in life is one of the best ways to be alive. Experiences excite, teach and rejuvenate you. Unlike material possessions, the memories, stories and photographs of these experiences will never fade away and certainly don’t require an upkeep. Have you ever thought of travelling the world? If not, do it! (Budget’s not a constraint). Learn a new language. Go bungee jumping. Do hitch-hiking. Start a new charity organization. Try new, exotic cuisines. There are literally millions of different types of experiences that you can seep in and most don’t take bagful of money. Usually, under false pretense of being busy in daily humdrum, it is your ego that prevents you from exposing yourself to different types of experiences, and hence doesn’t let you mature you as a person and live life to its fullest. The best part about these experiences is that you get to meet many interesting people, some of whom can also become lifelong friends and partners. This brings us to next point.
- Relationships: treasuring and maintaing relationships you have with your parents, friends, siblings, spouses, children and even neighbours is one of the most satisfying aspects of life. Humans need other humans in order to stay sane and to derive joy out of life. A loner can easily drive himself crazy. But, unfortunately, due to ego, sometimes we are rash with these relationships and end up hurting people. Even ignoring people can lead to isolation or broken relationships and that’s why it is important to realize that the relationships you have with other people are much more important than yourself (this realization is for your own sake and happiness, since you depend on other people. Try living completely alone!). Doesn’t joy and happiness become real only if you have other people to share it with? Can you be happy all by yourself? Nope! So, leave your ego aside and try to strengthen the relationships you have. When you come back from a trip to Caribbean, make sure you have someone to share your experiences with (and no, I don’t mean your Facebook friends)!
As usual, comments welcome!