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The paradox of modern day pursuits

You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.” – Seneca

There is one great paradox and irony that most of us face everyday. Some of us don’t even think it’s a problem.

In life, two things take up most of our time – our work and everything else.

I say that because we often get carried away with our prioritization over work at times when we should not.

***

I came this realization after two instances.

The first was when my manager asked me why I was working so unusually late. I said “to increase my chances of success.”
And that’s when she replied: “Work will never end. You can complete it today but there will always be more tomorrow.”

The second time was after meeting a friend of mine and finding his spending habits bizarre — he would spend frugally on himself and spend lavishly on those he holds dear. I eventually came to realize that his form of happiness is in making other people happy, the same way I derive pleasure from having my work recognized.

The truth is, we spend our waking hours in pursuit of wealth or to be productive. We feel the need to make sure our time is of utility – if not for financial rewards, then for personal convenience in the future.

We know that the work will never end. Or put it this way – we know the work will always be available if we so choose to pick it up again.

But can the same be said of our family and friends?

We can always “resume” work, the same way we can always collect more property and be the bearer of more titles.

But we can’t say the same for our loved ones as they may not always be around.

To put bluntly, they all have an expiration date — and the pursuit of property and productivity does not.

***

Too often we hear of the old man who regrets not spending more time with his children when they were younger because he was busy working.

Or that all too familiar feeling of living alone in a house stuffed with toys, but feeling empty inside and lonely.

I agree that it is far too simplistic to have a conclusion such as “money can’t buy happiness”.
It can buy comfort in the beginning, and happiness up to a point (according to Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, the optimal number is $75,000 a year) and satisfaction from then on.

We need money for survival and we should work for it.
But don’t lose sight of the reason why you are doing it in the first place.

***

Spend time with your loved ones and show them you love them. It doesn’t have to take hours, it just has to take thought.

Like a soldier heading off to battle, get your affairs in order at home so you can be at peace when you leave to carry out your duties.

 

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