Have you ever considered why the world is an unhappy place? Why do people run after material possessions all their lives, only to find themselves empty? Yes, money is important, but is money the destination of life? What is the difference between success and happiness?
When I was a kid, I didn’t think of all these questions. No one around me thought of all these questions, and hence it didn’t dawn on me either to ask them. I was lost as a kid. I was so quiet that if I ever spoke, my classmates would express surprise that I was talking. I was lost, and diffident. I couldn’t write, or speak for I was scared.
I didn’t know why one should do things. Why, after all, is an important question, no? We should know why we do what we do, otherwise, everything is pointless.
I studied the subjects I studied in school, because everybody did that.
I finished school and did a Bachelor of Commerce program because everybody did that.
I went ahead and worked hard for years to get an MBA because everybody did that.
There is nothing particularly wrong with those programs, but the reason sucks. That everybody does something is quite a popular reason for doing things in our society, isn’t it? I followed the same dictum and did what everybody did. I was a lost man, in a sea of lost men. The mob doesn’t have a mind.
That everybody does something is not a good reason to why we should do things.
But, that’s what I did. I considered writing about the death of a relative who died of cancer, for this essay, but that’s not as painful, as dying while you are alive.
Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.
This quote by Benjamin Franklin should remind us that we are not meant to join in the ranks of the lost men and women who don’t know if they are alive, when they go to work in the morning. They don’t know if they are alive, when they choose their life partners. They don’t know if they are alive when they have kids at a certain age, because everyone is having kids at a certain age.
After my MBA, when most of my goals that society values, had been completed, besides marriage, like finishing my studies, getting a decent paying job, I realized, what the heck, I am not happy!
Imagine, for years and years of my life, I had never really questioned my happiness. I just did things because everyone did those things, and it all seemed fine because that’s what the society approves, and quite emphatically. It approves of majority behavior, no matter how miserable the majority might be.
The majority is a sea of dead people who have lived an unconscious life without really questioning their own happiness. Only a few people are able to break free from this rut, because it takes a lot of courage, since following your heart and your authenticity is a lonely journey that could kill you. But, it could also set you free.
I started looking for ways to stumble upon happiness, and found a few, after years of searching. In my 30’s, after having lived an unconscious life, without having a good reason, I started feeling that I had been a lost man. That one realization opened the door of a new life- a life driven from inside, from the outside.
Now, I am going to tell you what I discovered as the answer to the WHY of life. Aristotle said it, and since I can’t say it better than him, I am going to quote him here:
Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence
This is the answer to why of my life, and to the why of your life. This is the answer to the why of human life.
You ask, why we are here: We are here to be happy.
You ask, how we can be happy: We can be happy by doing things that we are naturally gifted with, and use them to try and make the world a better place.
The lost man died within me
Unfortunately, while most of us try to live, life dies inside of us. Most of us are not fortunate to figure out things that bring us alive. I was. I was, although, quite late in life, but I was.
As it dawned on me that I should be doing things because they make me happy, I started moving to jobs I liked. I realized that I enjoyed writing quite naturally and started finding jobs where I could apply writing. I discovered stand-up comedy and became a stand-up comedian. I wrote a few books. I started a blog to try and help people find their happiness. I consider myself still pretty early in this new journey. It has just begun a few years back.
Well, I was a lost man, and I had to admit to myself that I was. The first step to happiness is brutal honesty with yourself. The problem with the pretentious society that people get so used to the pretense of outward success, that they stop asking how they really feel inside.
Happiness or the lack of it, lives inside of you.
For me, the lost man died when he discovered that happiness is possible.
You can feel happy when you do things you love, and spend time with people you love. These are the two foundations of inner happiness.
The guy who lives inside me now is a self-aware man who knows the reasons behind his actions, and is not lost anymore. He doesn’t do things anymore because everybody does them, because that was never a good reason.
The lost man in me has died, and I am happy he did. He died quite late, and I wish he had died early. But, I still consider myself fortunate. I know so many people personally who are in their 60’s and still do things, because everybody does them.
How about you- Are you happy?
I want you to think about yourself and your life. Do you do what makes you happy? Do you consciously make decisions on the basis of your personal happiness, or do you not?
I think we are all born with that lost man or the woman inside. Some of us are lucky to have aware parents who teach us to follow a self-aware path. However, most of us are left to figure things out ourselves, and by the time we are even conscious of what’s happening, most of our lives are gone.
If you think that the lost man or the lost woman is still living inside you, you need to do something about it, so that he or she quietly dies. You need to awaken the self-aware man or the woman in you, so that you live a purposeful and a meaningful life henceforth.
How do you do that? Start with asking yourself a few questions:
Who am I at the core?
Why do I do what I do?
Do I know my true motivations?
What makes me happy?
Things that make me unhappy?
What are my strengths and weaknesses?
I don’t wish to prolong this essay, because I can continue to write. I hope, the point has been made. The premise of this writing prompt aptly says, “A death isn’t always inherently sad, either; sometimes, it’s a positive step, freeing us from what was weighing us down or allowing us to move forward.”
While we live, lot of things die. Relationships die. Careers die. Prosperity dies.
If there is one thing that you and I need to prevent from dying while we live, is the life spirit inside of us. In order to keep that spirit alive, we need to let the lost man die and the purposeful man awaken, so that we can lead a life full of meaning, and purpose.
I wish, that you do.
Thank you for reading. Do comment in, if the story stirred something inside you.