Growing up in a Western society, we get told that we have to go to school. We need to learn about mathematics, society, science, geography etc. The better we know each of these subjects, the better grades we getter and the better school we can get into later. After we’ve finished school we should ideally apply for a university. The better university, the better job we can expect when we graduate. The better job we get, the more money we will make and the happier we will be. Sounds familiar?
I got top grades, I went to a top university and I landed a top job in Paris. After about one year in this job I started having the feeling of disappointment. Was this it? Was this what I had been aiming for? I realized some brutal facts. Simply getting a good job wasn’t enough, I was in the bottom of the company hierarchy and had a corporate latter to climb. I also realized that being good is the equivalent of being more like a robot: working faster, being more disciplined, making less mistakes and working longer hours. On top of this, we sit down each day for hours, forcing our body to adjust to a very un-natural position. Instead of questining this way of spending our days, we bring in an ergonomists so that we can continue working but with less pain. How screwed up is that?
Ever since I was 5 years old, I’ve heard that I’ll be a business women. My surrounding picked it up because I was constantly selling things: rhubarbs that I had taken from our garden, fish that I had caught and objects that I had made out of wood. The decision to study business was therefore a natural and obvious choice for me. Thinking back today, selling the things and earning money wasn’t what I enjoyed the most. It was to pick the rhubarbs and make them look nicely wrapped, to fish the fish and to create the objects in wood together with my grandpa. It was also about forming relationships with other people and seeing them happy. I got shaped, like so many others, the way society wanted me to get shaped, not how I truly am. This isn’t anyones fault, it’s just the way the world works today.
We get told that by doing this and that, you’ll find happiness. Society has a list of things you must obtain before you’re able to live the happiest life you can live. It’s an illusion that happiness is about having the perfect career, family, house, body, grades etc. It’s in our nature as humans to never truly be satisfied, we also want more. A promotion at work, a new car or a trip can give us satisfaction and short-term happiness, but what happens after that? You want a new promotion, a better car and another trip. For me, I thought that a nice apartment in Stockholm, a good job and money would bring me happiness. The truth is, I was never living in the moment, in the NOW, therefore I could never really be happy. It’s all so simply, by looking for happiness we will never find it.
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future: he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived”.