In short. Yes.

In the short span of time we are given in this life, humanity prioritises all sorts of varied shit. One person may find meaning in their career whilst another finds it in coke and hookers. There is one undeniable truth in whatever you prioritise, it is inextricably linked to what makes us happy.

From the age we are able to make ‘adult’ decisions, we are told that responsibility and societal norms are what we should aspire to. Of course you don’t want to fuck yourself over in the long term, but should you really be conforming to the societal norm? Will that really make you happy?

Living in Asia for the past six years I constantly see people unquestionably agreeing to whatever their parents and/ or society has planned for them. The ones that are financially able will invariably attend university, find a partner, marry, pop out kids, pay taxes and die thus completely the circle of mundanity they are expected to fulfill.

Now I understand the feeling of security and stability gives some of us happiness. It is the happiness that a warm cup of chocolate gives us on a cold winters night, not the sort of happiness that grabs you by the shoulders and screams “it’s time to party mother-fucker!”. Some people seem to be content with that.

On the other hand, Western countries have fallen into the opposite trap of treating everyone as a unique snowflake and applauding average effort. Even though we take an alternative approach, many of us do the same thing as our Asian counterparts in that we follow a pre-destined path that takes us down the much the same path as generations before us. But it doesn’t have to be like that if it doesn’t make you truly happy.

Happiness is hard to quantify, that is true. However, there is an underlying feeling evident in today’s society that rails against the status quo. Many people, maybe yourself included, aren’t happy with being pushed in the same direction as everyone else. Sitting in the cubicle doing the 9-5 grind until we die. Is that living? Will that make you happy?

We push ourselves to compromise and sell our time to the highest bidder, thinking our bank balance or belongings will somehow define us. Not realising that the people earning the most often have no time to enjoy their money. They have worked in the system for so long that their identity is inextricably linked to the number they see when they login to their online banking.

There was a study done recently that showed USD 70,000 was the peak salary for happiness. It provided people with a comfortable standard of living. A much higher income didn’t show an increase in happiness, in fact it showed a decrease.

While the correlation doesn’t prove causation, the evidence suggested that people on higher salaries had less time to enjoy their lives. They sacrificed their time on the altar of money. So, you can understand why people eventually allow that number to define them.

After reading all this, is happiness your primary concern? If not, why? If the why isn’t a good enough reason, isn’t it time to make a change? The changes can start small. You could start eating healthier and working out more, after all it is proven that physical and mental health are linked. Take that holiday to that place you always wanted to. Spend some time on your own instead of filling your time with others. Looking inward to find out more about ourselves instead of focusing outwards as we normally do.

Be happy. It is the only thing that matters.

Nathan Masters

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