Monday, March 30, 2015

The Pursuit of Happiness - by D

Hi everyone, this a guest posting by D.
Happiness is a topic that has been hotly debated and always on everyone's mind. Here in Singapore, in my growing years and as an adult, we have always been exposed to views in the media that happiness meant material happiness; the 5 Cs: cars, cash, condo, country club and career.

And so it was that when I graduated and started my own business as a naive and doe-eyed individual, I never saw what was to hit me. My business flopped and I tried to move location to keep it afloat, incurring huge debts in the process. Things got so bad that at one point I didn't have any income for 6 months, my dear wife was expecting our daughter in a few months and there were mortgages and business loans to pay. Naturally I ended up in hospital twice in the middle of the night with stress-induced gastric attacks. Things looked bleak and happiness seemed so far away... My friends, on the other hand, had blossoming careers and I was wallowing in self-pity; until one day I received a revelation from a very unlikely source, the little-known B-grade movie The Legend of Bagger Vance. 

Will Smith and Matt Damon were the leads of this movie. Matt Damon was a prodigious golfer who was winning awards until he hit a rough patch. Will Smith appeared from out of the woods one day and became his caddy and life coach. One scene which remained etched in my mind was when Matt Damon was playing a major tournament and his nerves were getting the better of him, so much so that he was making amateur errors and failing to keep pace with the leaders. Will Smith told him to deliberately hit his golf ball out of bounds so that he would effectively take himself off the pace of the competition and he could play his own game. He did just that, went from strength to strength, and won the tournament.

I closed my business, sucked it up, kept my head down, started working seven days a week and paid off the bad debts. I played my own game and was no longer concerned about whether other people were soon better or worse than me. I had found my nirvana.

I learnt many valuable lessons in that time. My wife and children were my biggest joys and this really was the true happiness that was all along under my nose. They gave me great strength to persevere and at the end of a hard day, just the sight of your children running up to you to greet and hug you is enough to sustain and nourish you. When you have to fight for a greater cause than yourself, you know you will not fail.

In the movie of the same title as this blog post, Will Smith fights tooth and nail to ensure survival for his son and himself. I personally find it a very moving and powerful movie. When you fight for the survival and a greater cause than yourself, you will succeed. 

I have learnt many lessons in my short lifetime. Man proposes but sometimes God disposes; to make you learn certain lessons and to show you the true meaning in life, sometimes you just have to learn the hard way. 

I wanted to fast-track my career but He made me learn Patience. I wanted riches but he showed me unconditional Love from my family, which is far more valuable than any worldly riches. He opened my eyes to how nasty people can be, even your own friends and ex-business partners who will not hesitate to take advantage of you; and I resolved never to be like them. 

Happiness is not a destination, it is a decision. You decide your own happiness and find your own joy in the mundane grind of life. Get rid of old baggages and see the beauty of the world and Life! My true happiness is knowing I get to see and spend quality time with my family, doing things for people who cannot repay you.

I genuinely delight when people do well in their careers and family. I do not profess to be a sage and have all the answers in life, but like you, I am still trying...

To quote the great Lee Kuan Yew: "At the end of the day, what I cherish most are the human relationships. With the unfailing support of my wife and partner I have lived my life to the fullest. It is the friendships I made and the close family ties I nurtured that have provided me with that sense of satisfaction at a life well lived, and have made me what I am."

I live my life according to two mantras: "Illegitimi Non Carborundum" and "No Regrets, Not Now, Not Ever", as I go about the pursuit of Happyness.... 

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