THE EMPTINESS OF SUCCESS
Have you ever wanted something really bad, that you made several sacrifices to get it, you gave up on relationships, went sleepless nights, because you believed that when you got it, it would give you some form of happiness, some sort of fulfillment.
Then when you got it, when you finally reached your goal, you felt nothing, you didn’t feel that sense of fulfillment you were supposed to feel, instead you’re left with self doubt about whether it was all really worth it.
You’re launched into an episode of sadness, but you know you’re supposed to be happy so you try to force it; you celebrate your success as much as you can. You believe that if you celebrate your success more, you will feel something, but you feel empty and no amount of partying can change that.
This was how I felt after every academic award I ever got, every milestone I ever reached, every little win here and there, empty, because for some reason I had come to believe that happiness was something I could earn, if I got this and I got that I would surely be happy.
It dawned on me that perhaps when people said “money can’t buy happiness” perhaps they were right; perhaps happiness was independent of material success. But it also seemed that people who don’t have material success also seem to be very unhappy, so is happiness an unattainable concept, and would it just be a series of ups which would seem meaningless at the end.
After every successful venture, one of the questions often asked is “What next?”, it seems as a society, we have become obsessed with the idea of the future that we never seem to enjoy the moment, we treat statements like “enjoy your life” as an aberration, that every moment you’re not spending chasing and creating a dream is somehow wasted.
When a student graduates from school you’re instantly burdened with questions about your CV, where you plan to work, often times before even graduation, so the very moment you’re supposed to be happy you’re spending it worrying about what next.
When you win an award, you instantly know you’re supposed to win again next time, when you make a million you know you’re supposed to be making 2 million. While it’s good to consider the future, we must learn to live in the moment, to enjoy every second and like Jesus said “let tomorrow take care of itself.”
The happiest moment of my life was when my younger brother was brought home after he was born; I still come to tears every time I remember how he felt in my hands. The second happiest moments of my life was the time I spent offline with my siblings due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. In two of these circumstances, I abandoned the future and absorbed each moment.
I could have spent time worrying about how the lockdown impaired our collective growths, but I’m glad I spent every second with not a care in the world, just happy to be with people I love.
“You ain’t never going to be happy till you love yours” is one of the wisest words from J.Cole, you will never find happiness if you spend every time worrying about getting more. Celebrities, billionaires, no matter how much they have seem to somehow never been paradigms of happiness but instead seem to be susceptible to mental health issues and drug abuse just like everyone else.
Contentment is the only true key to happiness; Contentment is being satisfied with what you have while still wanting more. It’s the state where you choose to be happy despite everything else around you. You want more, but it’s not going to stop you from enjoying everything you have, from enjoying the moment.
If you’re not content with the present, if you don’t live in the moment to enjoy and value what you already have, you may only end up losing everything just because you were busy chasing other things and you end up sad because now you’ve gotten it, but you still feel empty.
Happiness is not an attainment, it’s not a result of anything you get, it’s a choice, a choice to enjoy and value the present and everything and everyone good in it.