Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination — Mark Twain
Life is full of ironies. Those who cherish their freedom are often enslaved by the ball-and-chain of debt; those who consider their self-worth by the type of car they drive often deprive themselves of self-esteem; those who juxtapose happiness with their outer reality(bigger house, nicer car, you name it) often lack happiness. Indeed, life is full of ironies.
I came to this realization recently on more than few occasions.
“You have enough money, and you don’t enjoy. Why do you work?,” asked a friend. If you can imagine, he complains about his work more often, and he is among those who hang on to their addiction for material possessions like caterpillars to a cabbage leaf.
The notion of work only to fund consumerism has plagued even those among us who are gifted with high IQ power. What an irony it is that those who flock the malls and spend hours to find deals often trash their monthly investment statements because they are too busy buying bargain stuff that they don’t need.
“I love my freedom, but I think government should create a safety net by ensuring that I can live my life without worry,” said another friend. I don’t know how Patrick Henry would have responded to the fellow. He is willing to sacrifice every bit of his freedom for security.
If you answer yes to anyone of these questions, you are suffering from a severe sickness of consumerism.
- Do you work because you have to?
- Do you say that I will do this for five years, and if I don’t like it, I will find something else as I can’t afford not to work?
- Do you wear name brand shirts because you don’t want to be perceived cheapskate?
- Do you talk more often about your car than about your passion?
- Do you think that your self-worth is how others define it?
- Do you try to please others often?
- Do you think of a celebrity when you think of who you want to become?
- Do you hate what you do?
- Do you hate those who delay gratification?
- Do you think that life is not fair?
- Do you think that your government owes you happiness?
- Do you think saving is mundane, and you can save later because you earn six-figure income?
- Do you abhor those who live simple life? After all, they have enough. How stupid are they not to spend now?
I can go on and on, but you get the gist of my thinking. Good enough. How to survive this dreaded disease?
The task may seem daunting, but it is not a giant feat to achieve if you commit yourself to do so.
- Recognize and win over the beast of desire — an acute craving to own things you don’t need. Simply look at things you bought when you succumbed to your desire but never cared for it afterwards. You may find many things around that you are spending your life-energy to pay for long after you succumbed to the beast of ugly desire of possession.
- Understand that you are not going to allow others to define your happiness. Your happiness should not be enslaved by your desire to please others. Opt out of this loser’s game now and forever.
- Happiness is not an entitlement. You have to earn it. Happiness is priceless; for everything else, there’s Mastercard. Happiness has an inverse relationship with your desire to spend. In fact, spending is the biggest nemesis of your happiness as it forces you to stay away from those who you love just to pay for it.
- Believe that you have enough. You really do. Once you start enjoying what you have, you will learn to squash the bug of desire because you will start appreciating the fact that life requires not much to live happily.
The greatest irony of life is to enslave your freedom in a self-imposed prison of consumerism by funding lifeless possession with real life-energy.
We care more for tangible things in our lives, but our most precious resource — our finite time on this earth — is not only intangible but most neglected and abused by those plagued by the epidemic of consumerism. Do you agree?