Audemars Piguet, Salvatore Ferragamo and Christian Dior, they are some of the higher end brands -- some that I knew of, and some completely new to me until I moved to Singapore. Singapore boasts cultural diversity, economical forte, national safety, cleanliness and of course, renowned for being the world's most expensive city to live in.
It doesn't take too long to realise that, Singapore is a city of consumption with strong spending power. Heck, not a single day goes by without spotting Rolexes on people's wrists. This culture slowly but surely affected me and eventually, I was ready to buy a Rolex for myself. I have more than doubled my salary, I live in a prestigious condo with a maid and a cook who helps me get through the week effortlessly. I thought I was successful both professionally and personally; happiness seemed to be a natural byproduct of my success. But ever since I started making more money, I had times where I was more angry, furious and upset about myself, contemplating to leave Singapore and its vast opportunities and be on a plane back home. Then I realised, it's not how much you spend in life, but how you spend your life that matters and defines success. Below are five true meanings of happiness and how you can attain them:
P.S. I eventually did quit my job. Here's what I learned from that experience.
1. Health is Your #1 Asset
As a chiropractor, I've always appreciated my body and its limitless ability to heal and prosper. But in truth, I've never looked after my health as I should be, blaming my busy schedule and the physical limitations of a busy chiropractor. What is the point in pursuing your life goals, if your health deteriorates in the process?
In my office, I see a lot of elderly patients who have worked their entire life, oftentimes bearing decades of pains and aches. Although I have my deepest respect for those people, I find it very ironic and unsettling to see them use that hard earned money to try and gain their health back. There is no point in working so hard, having a blind eye on your deteriorating health, just to make some money and support your loved ones. In the end, it's your life, your retirement and you deserve to do the things you love in life.
The best way to be healthy is to act NOW. Don't take your health for granted -- your knees aren't going to be same as they are today. Exercise and strengthen your body, refine your mental health through practising mindfulness and meditation. You are what you eat; eat a healthy diet to boost your immune system. And most importantly, stop blaming your busy schedule for the lack of time. It all comes down to our determination. We always seem to have no problems finding time for lunch and coffee, then why can't we schedule a workout?
2. Realise Your Goals
Knowing your purpose in life is a difficult journey and requires a lot of soul searching.
Your goal should never to be happy -- happiness is just a byproduct of doing something that you are passionate about.
Your goal should never to be wealthy -- who doesn't want money? Money should be a natural byproduct of your work and the value you provide to others.
Call me idealistic, but if you don't like your job and you are miserable, maybe that job isn't for you. If you find your work mundane, see no light at the end of the tunnel, what does it matter that it pays your rent and bills? Every moment of your life is your life. If you are not passionate about what you do, if your job is not in align with your higher purposes in life; the chances of earning more and getting that promotion at your workplace is slim to none. Realise your dreams and visions, when you know what you want in life, the opportunities, the people and the resources will naturally gravitate towards you.
3. Cherish Your Relationships
I lived in New Zealand almost all my life. It's where I call home, it's where my friends, family and loved ones are. Despite of all this, I took a blind leap of faith and moved to Singapore for its endless opportunities. Did I get what I wanted? To some extent, yes, but I've lost a lot too. I used to take my friends, family and partner for life for granted. They were always there for me. Just like having daily supplies of clean water, their companionship weren't special to me, but just a normal part of life. As I moved to Singapore, I realised that the love and affection they gave me was a blessing and a huge asset to my life, unmatched to any materialistic possession I may think of. Now I cherish them with feelings of gratefulness for their love, and so should you. Why not take this chance to express your gratitude and love to your friends and family tonight?
4. Live your Life Moment to Moment
Don't miss a second of it. When I initially moved to Singapore, I was given tasks and goals to fulfill within the workplace. Soon my entire life revolved around my work, all I cared about was work and the goals given to me, not really caring for the process but just focusing at the results. Sure, I had results and goal-oriented attributes may be highly sought after in corporates, but I missed too many things in life (read how entrepreneurs and leaders become victimised by their own thoughts by becoming "too" goal-oriented). It's not just the results that matter but it's also the little things -- simple conversations between your co-workers, feeling good about not having to wait for the taxi in the morning and how delicious the coffee was that morning. When you begin to live your life moment to moment, you start to truly appreciate things, raising awareness of all the things that we should be grateful for.
5. Grow and Serve
Let's assume your goal was to climb a mountain. You put in your sweat and time, eventually you reach the peak of the mountain. The view looks great, soon to be disappointed by that there's nothing more to climb.
Our 'Wanting Mind' is limitless, it's not money that gives you fulfillment, it only feeds your insatiable hunger for more. The true senses of fulfillment and happiness comes with personal growth, giving back, giving value to the world and being in invaluable relationships. The real joy is not found in playing the game of promotion that our society created; it's not found in being served but in serving others.
The True Meaning of Happiness
As I look back and reminiscent my life in Singapore, I see that I have changed -- some for the better and some for the worst. I'm sure that I'm going to continue to change as I experience new things and ask these crucial questions in life,
"Am I happy?"
"What makes me wake up in the morning and show up to work?"
"Am I taking things for granted?"
These are the questions that you too should be asking yourself. Now that I've shared my life experiences with you, now it's your turn. Look back and see if there's anything to change in your life.