I don’t know where it started. But somewhere, I got the idea that I have to live life to the fullest. Maybe I got the idea from my parent. They never stopped telling me to be successful. What’s their definition of success? You should be able to own cars and mansions. “When you are successful,” mom said, “you can own everything you want to own and life would be peaceful.” Peace comes from ownership, it seems.
Or maybe I didn’t get it well. Maybe that’s not what they meant when they said I should be successful. If not, then my idea of success might have been derived from the kind of friends I walked with. It was a daily challenge to see who comes up on top. Who comes up on top of the ownership race. My friend owns the latest phone. Wow, he’s successful. He’s happy. And then my other friend will buy a new car. Wow, he’s a happy dude. One has to own something—something of note to be happy.
Success. Happiness. Or maybe having some sort of respect from the society you live in can only come about when you own something—something of note. I wanted to be respected. By all means, people should know I have a life that means something. For a life to mean something, something has to give. They should see me as a man capable of owning a lot of things before I can be given the respect due me. Like someone asked, “how would they know you are a king if you are not dressed like one?” So I started trying to own a lot of things that will make them see the King in me.
I started gathering a lot of things on my way.
I lived a life of buying and accumulating. Whatever promises joy had to be bought. When something looks like it can make the society see me as a king, I go ahead and acquire it. The question then became, “what will make me appear successful in my parent’s eye?” I look for such things and buy them. Life became an opportunity to acquire and accumulate wealth. What others have that I don’t have frustrated me. I wanted to be that guy who decided to go for things that brought only joy.
It’s such a joy to finally be able to own whatever you’ve dreamt of owning for a long time. But the thing is, no matter what I got, I always wanted more. When I bought a bicycle, it got me excited until I realized having a motorbike was a better idea than having just a bicycle. Then the joy dies. Then I will begin a new journey of trying to acquire something new. Newness is not forever. If your joy is found in something new, nothing old will excites you. But then, everything gets old. This is the awakening.
We usually disregard the value of what we already own.
Rather, we get anxious and frustrated over the things we believe we should have had but don’t have. Something is beautiful to us until we actually come to own it. Then the beauty fades and we begin to want something new. We desire for more every day until one day we get to sit on the heap of things we’ve accumulated and realized indeed “all is but vanity.” We have too many things than our lives actually need. And these things hardly deliver the joy and fulfillment we’ve hoped for.
No matter what you own, there is always more. No matter the beauty you derive from the things you’ve accumulated, there is always going to be more beauty. There’s always something better than what you have. There is always more than you can have. Accumulation of wealth is a battle you can’t win. People who try to stay on and win are the sad ones. What they have never bring joy. What they don’t have promises them joy. So they are always chasing.
At some point, I stopped chasing.
I realized I couldn’t win even if I should have all the money in this world. Life is easier when you tune it in such a way that you only welcome the things that bring utility and personal joy into your life. Before I buy, I ask the use it will bring into my life, not the perception I will derive from the outside eyes. That way, I’m able to live a life desiring after finite things. This is the only way I can win. Actually, life becomes winnable this way. Find utility from what you own. Find personal joy from things you’ve been able to acquire. Don’t allow what you don’t have to bring you sadness and frustration.
So one morning, I pushed out everything I have no need of. If I haven’t used it for a year, it has no use for my life. I gave out what I don’t need. I emptied a lot of boxes and swept out a lot of things I hardly use. My room was empty but not for too long. Very soon, fresh air started occupying the spaces created by the emptiness. Then I could breathe again. Two pairs of shoes are enough. I can walk anywhere in them. One phone is enough. The world can still reach me on it. Television? No! They stole it recently and I haven’t replaced it. But still, life has meaning.
If I should have desires, then my desires will be;
a. To have less in joy
b. To spend only on things that bring utility
c. To surrender to things I can’t control so I can lord over the controllable spaces
d. To find my plus; someone to improve me. My equal; someone to challenge me. And my minus; someone I can teach so I solidify what I’ve learned.
e. To have more free time to play with my child and pets
f. To seek more pleasure in what I own.
g. To live a life that matters
h. To connect with new friends every day and find joy in common interests
i. To laugh and give laughter in return
j. To walk away from people and things that give me stress
k. And to tell whoever reading this, that I love them so much. Yeah I really do.
If everyday I’m not able to achieve these, then I’m a failure. And deserve to relive the day again until I’m able to achieve them.
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