Do you, yes you reading this, have a good life?
I’m all for the idea of contentment, but look at how you are living and ask yourself whether or not you’re content with it. Be brutally honest.
There’s a universe between contentment and apathy but they feel centimeters away from each other.
I wouldn’t bash on a normal life if normal people appeared to be, even on average, remotely happy. They don’t. Are you?
Do you have to get rich to have a quality life? Nope. Do you have to build an amazing magical passion? Nope. Do you have to look like a supermodel, be famous, and have 9 million friends? Nope.
But look, you know whether or not you’re even close to objectively having a truly high-quality life by your own standards. And you’re probably not.
Why not just admit it and fix it?
Let’s take a look at how.
The Yin and Yang Approach to Happiness
It’s funny. As much as I talk about success in the worldly realm, I’ve also spent the past half-decade studying Eastern Philosophy. I meditate every day, do yoga, and have studied zen philosophy. I once legitimately considered moving to Asia and living in a cave
You indeed can be happy without doing anything. This the proper way to live your life. You shouldn’t need anything to be happy, ever. You should be able to sit alone in a room and meditate in silence — simply focused on the present moment.
In theory, a modest and humble life where you accept everything just as it is should be the default. Not being cheeky at all.Do you fully accept it though? Or are you halfway in — pretending to be content but secretly longing for more and getting mad at yourself for your inability to get it?
Desire is suffering. Once you become successful in a certain area, you get used to it and want more. Like the King in the story of the beggar’s bowl, you can come to realize that desire has an insatiable hunger.
I look at contentment as a delicate balance.
On the one hand, worldly possessions are worthless, money is worthless, status is ultimately worthless because you’ll die. But these results tend to come as a byproduct of doing something useful for the world.
Also, these resources give you the logistics to focus on happiness. You make money so you don’t have to think about money anymore. I can take off a month of my life to contemplate how happy I am — many, many months. Can you?
Work hard to achieve your goals yet simultaneously don’t take life all that seriously.
The hard part about trying to be content when you find yourself losing at the game of life is the fact that you’re losing at the game of life. Go tell someone who hates their job, stresses about their bills, has crappy relationships, etc to just focus on the present moment and see how that works.
Spiritual growth is a lengthy and arduous process. So focus on your internal happiness and measure your life by it, but supplement it with achievement to make it easier to bridge that gap.
Full Stop: You MUST Get This Right
Here’s my stance on health. Everybody has a different body. There are different variables that go into the quality of your health. But if your health is fucked, you’re fucked, period.
My dad is diabetic, has high blood pressure, and suffered a stroke. Now, his ability to work is impacted. And, of course, it has to take a toll on his mental state.
The way I look at my life? I know I’m prone to hereditary health problems and I know I can avoid preventable illnesses by exercising and eating right, period. My internal organs don’t care about my opinion of them. They are going to behave and function based on the combination of my behavior and my genetic makeup, period.
I’m using myself as an example and talking about my own feelings about my own health situation because…you know why.
I don’t want to get into a debate about aesthetics. All I know is that health is the central measure of a quality life that impacts the other ones. =
Time is the most valuable resource. For me, I have a lot of life live to live and many more things I want to accomplish. So this means I’m going to make sure that I don’t needlessly reduce the length of my life. And yes, I do quite enjoy having a six-pack, too. Nothing wrong with some selfish desires.
Do what you want to do with your life. I don’t know you or your exact situation so I won’t make any judgments on it. Measure your own health and the quality of your life resulting from it and use those insights to decide what to do on your own.
The Simple and Straightforward Path to “Passion”
“Find your passion and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Barf.
Find a skill you enjoy developing and you’ll never have to worry about passion a day in your life. Measure the quality of your life by your competence level in things you enjoy. Simple.
You don’t want to win the lottery. You think you do, but you don’t. You’d run out of hedonistic experiences in a few years, tops. You want competence. You want to build something valuable.
Take Jeff Bezos for example. Ok, let’s take away the shadiness and ruthlessness of his empire and focus on the takeaway. Why keep working if you’re the richest man in the world? Because his money is entirely different than lottery money. It’s a byproduct of building the most successful company in the world. And he’s not close to finished with building it.
It’s the same reason why Oprah, a much more lovable human, continues to build her media empire even though she’s worth 3 billion dollars. Building that empire took decades of developing competence at a number of different skills.
Even if you don’t want to own a company or be wealthy, always focus on being the best in the world at whatever it is you choose to do. And always look for new skills to build. The evolution creates the mythical passion you’re looking for. I trip myself out when I look at writing from years ago because it looks like someone else wrote it. 100 videos later on my YouTube channel and the results are night and day.
If you start to get good at something, especially at a skill or path that deviates from the norms of society, you gain a level of confidence you simply can’t get elsewhere.
One of the Trickiest But Most Important Areas to Manage
Quality relationships are key, but often, the level at which you have your own shit together dictates the quality of people you have in your life. That’s why I mentioned other areas first.
For example, if you don’t have the resources to work for yourself or don’t have a job you love with like-minded, skilled, and fun people, you’re in a situation where you have to deal with people you don’t want to deal with.
In an article I wrote about making “fuck you money” I talked about the fact that the major benefit of having money is the ability to avoid people you don’t want to associate with. How many people are in bad relationships due to a lack of money and an inability to support themselves the right way? A ton.
How many people have low-quality relationships due to a lack of confidence? When you have a mission for your life and you’re focused, you create a better filter to attract the right people into your life. When you’re aimlessly wandering through life, you’re susceptible to letting the wrong people into your life out of neediness.
I pick on these hypothetical people a lot, but they’re the perfect microcosm for the relationship ills that come with living below your potential. The married couple — both “let go of themselves,” both work jobs they hate or tolerate, both have co-mingled assets and debt, both living in a co-dependent mess weighing each other down, both devoid of souls.
All of these aspects of a quality life spill into each other. Maybe you don’t perfectly fit the bleak caricature I tend to paint about the average person in society, but pieces of it resonate with you. How do I know? Because pieces of it resonate with me. I’ve been in a trainwreck marriage. I’ve been depressed, broke, and hooked on drugs and alcohol. I know what “quiet desperation” feels like.
And I also know that even today, as a self-improvement writer who has changed many parts of his life, I’m just as susceptible as you to all of these ills because…I’m a human being. If it sounds like I’m finger-wagging, just know that I’m trying to trigger you on purpose.
How else will you listen?
Relationships are the most difficult things to assess because they’re most prone to rationalizations. The effort level it takes to not just make and maintain high-quality relationships, but sever bad ones, is difficult, but crucial and necessary.
And the End of the Day This is All That Matters
All of these quality measures impact the most important quality measure.
Life is too short to spend most of it doing things you don’t want to do, yet this is the position the vast majority of people find themselves in.
Why? They don’t properly understand time.
They fear wasting it in the short term, which results in them wasting nearly all of it in the long-term. Five years ago. I decided to sacrifice a half-decade of my life to have freedom for the rest of my life. It worked.
Most people, maybe you, get too caught up in the rat race to notice your time slip away. Nobody becomes stuck in an instant. It happens one day at a time, living in that inescapable loop running on a hamster wheel without ever noticing you’re inside of a cage surrounded by a vast world.
I don’t know. I try. It’s tough. And I get where you’re coming from. Living life within the confines of societal rules just feels like you’re constantly being sucked into this black hole by this unimaginably strong gravitational pull.
How the hell are you going to build some dream when you have a job, kids, mortgage, health insurance, little to no time to do anything else but run on that wheel? Trying to break out, save your own life, and gain back your sovereignty is highly impractical.
Why even try?
Because you’re going to die, my friend.
You may never make it to retirement to travel the world and play golf. You could get in a car accident, catch Co-Vid, slip and fall off a ladder while you’re cleaning your gutters. A colleague of mind just…fell…one day and now she’s paraplegic. Shit just happens.
I’m aware of this almost to the point where I have to tamp down paranoia about my impending demise. Better than falling asleep at the wheel.
Here’s the awesome thing about time, though. You can reclaim it. One day, you can just up and make a decision. I did. I wasted ages 20–25 and went the exact opposite direction at 25–30.
It’s doable. You can do it. You don’t even have to make this big monumental deal about it.
Ayodeji is the Author of Real-Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement. Grab your free checklist here — The Ultimate Guide to Discovering Your Natural Talents and Strengths.