People often yearn for either happiness or success, but rarely both. It is certainly possible! Before sharing how I have come to live a happy and successful life, I am going to start with my story before I had a turning point.
It was a holiday. My relatives gathered, and we were enjoying the time together. One of my older cousins arrived, and instantly he became the focus of the day. As it turned out, he was admitted to one of the most prestigious schools, and everyone congratulated him. “Wow!,” I said to myself, “attending a great school is such an admirable thing!” As an elementary school student, I formed a strong mental image that associates a good school and praise, and I desired to become like my cousin. I wanted to be the center of attention. A few years later, he got a job at a sought-after company with a large salary, and everyone applauded him once again. Then, another idea came to me: “I want to get a good job and make a lot of money.” As I grew up and saw more successful, respected people, my desire for success continued to grow.
Dreaming about attending a prestigious college, I attended elementary school, middle school, and high school. I dreamt about getting people’s acknowledgement and at the same time worried about not reaching that goal. I was dreaming and worrying, rather than spending time and energy to study. Embedded in my mind, this idea of success became a huge burden and a source of stress.
Many of you must have the same experience. Instead of actually doing the work, your mind wanders elsewhere. You might be thinking about an upcoming travel plan, stressed out over conflicts with friends, family, or coworkers, or worrying about what would happen if things don’t go as desired. Yes, I was constantly worrying about “what ifs”: What if I can’t get an A in this class? What if I do not get into a good school? What if I can’t get a good job? What if people laugh at me or disrespect me?
It was an endless cycle of misery: merely wishing for success, not putting anything into action to become successful, and being unhappy about not reaching my goal. To escape from reality, I mindlessly surfed the internet, binge watched movies, and habitually procrastinated, further worsening my situation.
One day, I heard that meditation would help me be happy and focus and it would bridge the gap between where I wanted to go and where I was. So I embarked on this new journey.
That was true. Meditation was like a GPS giving me a turn-by-turn direction. First, it helped me realize that I was trapped in my mind, which is an accumulation of my experiences. I created so many mental images about success and constantly reinforced them throughout my life, and I was obsessed by them and tormented by them. I had been unable to enjoy my life and the world as is. After seeing and eliminating these invisible chains, I became free from my obsession for success. Through meditation, I escaped from my habits and body, such as my habit of procrastination. Naturally, I became happier without being conditioned to success.
After being rescued from my narrow-minded world–filled with a desire for success and unhappiness, I had many realizations. I realized (not just with my head but with my heart) that I was just wishing for something and complaining. Then, I became determined to work hard to achieve my goals and focus on those goals. This new found work ethic led me to some of the best schools and high paying jobs, just like my cousin. At the same time, without the obsession for success, I have been living a happy life and living in the moment.
I have many friends who attended best schools, have high paying jobs, and are respected in their fields. Few are satisfied with what they have achieved; they continue to struggle to climb higher. They think that once they become more successful, they will be able to enjoy their lives.
No. External conditions do not end human greed. Once we accomplish a goal, we always want to accomplish another bigger goal. That is the human nature. Instead, we need to change what is within us. We need to find happiness within. And without stress and anxiety, we can naturally work hard and be successful.
I hope that many people try meditation to eliminate the self-imposed mental traps to live a happy life and accomplish their goals. I want to help people live a happy and successful life. For that, I am writing this post–not just wishing for it, but putting it into action.