I believe that when we are born, we are all blessed with a natural disposition towards the pursuit of happiness. It is only due to the environments we are raised in that we end up losing that desire for it. Sure, many of us spend a good portion of our lives striving towards having a stable and secure income, the perfect spouse, that ideal family, enjoyment of all types of foods, and a body that would make Greek mythology seem reflective of the average physique. Is all of that possible? Of course it is, but it takes immense amounts of hard work, ambition, self-esteem, patience, and faith – things very few of us are willing to apply to our lives.
What we acquire in life, and how successful we are is often judged based on our bank balances, the size of our houses, the brands of our clothes, and the price tag of our cars. Notice how it’s all related to money? We have become slaves to the things we have created – paper with ink on it, which we claim to be of value because of some sort of signature on it that makes it unique. Money is the largest and longest running ad campaign in human history. We have been convinced and conditioned to make something so worthless into something considered priceless at times. How’s that? Consider being in a situation where law requires you to pay for anything you eat, and that the clerk selling you food must take money from you in order to make the transaction and avoid penalties. Add to this the fact that you have not eaten for days and have no money with which to purchase food. Other than doing something that could result in you being punished by law, in some cases, to the point of death, you really have no choice but to move forward without nourishment. That mere dollar or two would thus become priceless to you because it is a matter of life and death. This example may seem a little farfetched, but sadly, it’s a truth to thousands of people around the world who live in impoverished places and have nothing to eat or drink. (We must put forth our utmost effort to help those in need, be it as close as home or in places where their basic necessities have become luxuries. I have chosen not to speak further on the importance of helping others in this article, as it takes away from the core of what I am trying to get across. I will, however, speak on the topic in the near future, as it is something I am very passionate and concerned with.)
Yet, look at those people, and you will find that they live out their lives, though often shortened by their unfortunate conditions, with happiness, contentment, and a sincere sense of peace in their hearts. They no longer have attachments to material gains, but rather, attach themselves to faith, family, and hope. We, however, live privileged lives. While others around the world are in conditions where their bare necessities are turned to luxuries, we are living with major luxuries being considered necessities – “Oh, you can’t do much unless you have a cell phone,” “I’m not going to buy those shoes! I want those [insert major brand name here]!” “But what am I supposed to do all day if the TV is out??” We are spoiled. We are pathetic.
Take a look at your life, and ask yourself how much of your time you spend being active? Is your faith the core of your lifestyle? Do you eat to nourish yourself, or to deal with emotions or addictions? Why are you still at your current job? Are you pursuing a passion in at least one component of your life? Ultimately, are you happy? Questions like these are ones that we must ask ourselves often to keep ourselves in check.
For years, I worried about the intangible things, like wealth, careers, food, etc. When I changed my mindset towards focusing around my faith, I found peace. That doesn’t in any way suggest that I don’t have struggles or issues of my own to deal with on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean that I am perfect and completely practice what I’ve written about here, without flaws or errors. What it means is that I no longer felt an attachment to things that I knew would pass. It also means that I am more satisfied and content with my life, and am more open and flexible when it comes to change. I used to think that things had to be done a certain way, and that without pursuing things in that same path, I would be guaranteeing myself a sense of failure and loss. But now, I live with fluidity and flexibility, and am able to adjust to situations with much more ease. I have my affections and attachments, but if they are lost from my life, I no longer feel the need to mope around or be depressed about it, Alhamdulillah.
Life is filled with expectations and norms, but that does not necessarily mean that it’s what best for you. Hold your own goals, work hard, and commit to your dreams and ambitions, but practice fluidity and flexibility through attachment to faith in order to transition smoothly through the turbulence of life. Find a passion, and make an effort to pursue what makes you happiest. Forget the rules of anything but morality and faith, and focus on pursuing happiness as a child without fear and full of imagination. And always, ALWAYS remember to give back and help others, because that is the fastest route to happiness and gaining more true success.