I used to think, once upon a time as a young lad, that I’d make a name for myself, do something grand and impressive, change the world and all that stuff. I don’t care about that anymore. Now, I’d rather not be famous. The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve come to lean toward the conclusion that the best thing in the world is for the world to leave you alone.
There is ultimately nothing to accomplish in life. You don’t need to be rich or well-liked or of prestigious social standing. You don’t need much of anything to be happy. You just need to focus on being happy, because you can only do one thing at a time in life. If you try to do more than that, nothing gets done because your intentions conflict with each other, one hand pushes against the other. You must choose. Career or family, money or love, success or happiness… you cannot have it all. You can really only have one thing in life, and you’d better choose carefully.
You can choose money, spend all your days in gradually expanding offices and finally die of a heart attack in a board meeting while your gold-plated Ferrari sits quietly in the garage of your fifty-room mansion in the most exclusive neighborhood in the state.
You can choose family, be buried in a 2-for-1 bargain plot with your children weeping over your headstone and be as forgotten as a dead squirrel in the forest in a matter of generations.
You can choose anything you want in life and probably get it, but you can only completely achieve one thing. If you split your priorities, you will achieve split results as well. You can have a little bit of money, a little bit of prestige, a little bit of family and a little bit of everything else, but none of them will be complete for you. If you want 100% success with anything, that thing must comprise 100% of your priorities. Each goal you set for yourself takes away from all your other goals, because circumstances will always force you to further one at the expense of another and to choose between them every day.
My advice to you is to focus on happiness, on enjoying life. You probably don’t want to hear this, but this means you will not have money or status or anything else. Conversely, focusing on money, status or anything else means you will not achieve happiness. Happiness is not success. Happiness is the opposite of conventional success. True happiness doesn’t look like this:
It’s not having things, it’s ceasing to want things. When you stop caring about everything that could be and focus completely on enjoying what is, you are happy. You are unhappy when you think your life isn’t the way it should be, that you need to change X and Y and then your life can really begin. It doesn’t work like that, though. This is your life, RIGHT NOW, THIS IS IT! Are you happy?
[ ] Because people mostly do not want happiness. They want something else, something like money or success or status or respect, a beautiful wife or a wikipedia entry that says they were important. They want other people to think they are happy more than they really want to be happy. When you want to be happy even if it means that everyone you’ve ever loved and everyone you’re ever going to meet will think you’re a pathetic loser, that’s when you’re ready to be happy. Not before.
Being happy is the simplest thing in the world. Just do something that completely occupies your attention. This is why people do extreme sports – the danger requires their complete attention so there is room for nothing else in their brain, and their internal monologue about everything that they think is wrong in their life quiets down. You don’t need to risk death, though. Watch a really good TV show or play a video game, something that really draws you in. Once you get better at giving your complete attention to the immediate present moment, you can do anything. Cook dinner, go for a walk in the park, sit still and do nothing. As long as you can stay out of your head and out of the range of that internal voice that nags about changes it wants made, you’ll stay happy. Happiness is your natural default state. Do you think lions lying in the sun berate themselves over what an ex-girlfriend said about them on Facebook?