Monday, October 20, 2008

Has Life Been Good?

Warning: Another LONG post. Fingers were cramped during the construction of this post.

I'm turning 28 soon (getting bloody old already T.T), early next month to be exact. I got to thinking and reflecting on my life this morning on the way to work. Have I had a good life? How do we judge whether life has been good to us? Is it a matter to having everything we ever wanted, or everything we ever needed? In my opinion, needs are usually basic but most necessary, and we will find it very difficult to live without. Wants can be unnecessary, selfish and sometimes even superficial. We may want a lot of things, but they may no need be what we need. But needs are necessary without question, and are usually vital elements in life that we cannot do without.

So, has life been good to me? Let's see (there is no order of importance here):

1. I'm not destitute or stricken by poverty. I come from a financially average family. We've had many financial struggles in the past but we've never lived poorly. I've always have had enough cash to spend. I'm able to afford decent food, proper attire to wear, occasional leisurely activities and pay my bills. Sure, being able to earn millions, live in luxury, buy branded stuff all the time and travel around the world would be great, but these are just wants. If it happens, then great. If it doesn't, I'm still grateful that all my financial needs are met and should not let the missing luxuries get me down.

2. I have enough to eat and drink. I'm very grateful that I have enough good food to eat every day and don't have to worry about when my next meal will be, or if there will BE a next meal. In fact, I pray for thanks before I begin eating. I'm grateful that I don't have to beg for food, eat rotten food, suffer from starvation, malnutrition or thirst, or even have to eat dirt to survive. I'm lucky to be born in a place where there are no famines or droughts. God has been good to me, as food and water are always abundant. Sadly, a lot of people take this basic but most important need for granted.

3. I have a home and a roof over my head. Another thing worse than starving or being thirsty, is being homeless and having nowhere to lay your head at night. Sure, I don't live in a luxurious mansion, condo or bungalow, but at least I don't sleep in the streets like a homeless person. I only live in a flat. It belongs to me and it is my home, so I'm grateful for that.

4. I am not affected by natural disasters. I consider myself very lucky to reside in a country that is free from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters that can ruin lives. This isn't a need really, just something I'm thankful for.

5. I am healthy. With life being a rat race nowadays, more and more people are stressed (myself included), living unhealthy lifestyles and falling ill. I'm glad that I'm not stricken with any terminal illness or accidents and lying bedridden in the hospital. What's the use if you have everything in the world except your health to enjoy it?

6. I am not physically handicapped and don't have any physical defects. I'm glad that I have all my organs and limbs functioning normally, have a sound mind and don't have any physical defects that would hinder even the simplest tasks. I have both arms to do everything by myself. I have both legs to walk and run every day. I'm able to see the world through my eyes. I'm able to listen to the songs on my MP3 player. I'm able to speak fluently. I'm not physically paralysed in any way. I'm able to relieve myself in the toilet like a normal person. A lot of people compare themselves to others (myself included) who look better and seem perfect, but they forget how lucky they are physically.

7. I have a car to drive. I'm glad I don't have to walk, cycle or take the bus to work everyday. I'm glad I have a proper car to bring my family and friends around. I'm glad I don't have to endanger myself or endure the heat and rain on a bicycle or motorcycle daily. I may only drive a Proton Wira, but it's better than having NO Wira at all.

8. I have a good job. These are times with rising cost of living, increasing inflation levels and deteriotating global economy, which impacts everyone. Employees everywhere are being retrenched, unemployment is becoming more rampant and companies are shutting down or being bought off. I'm just glad that I've landed myself a good job and is able to stay for more than 2 years. God has been kind to me. I managed to get the engineering job at the company that I wanted only 2 months after I graduated, even only with very average grades.

9. I have true good friends. Some people boast of having many friends. Some boast of having famous or popular friends. I can boast of having true friends. Friends whom I can trust and confide in. I believe that friendship is a need, as crucial as the rest. We all need friends to provide companionship while we ride the waves of life, help and be there for each other during bad times, share our joys during good times and provide color to the canvas of our lives. I am truly blessed to have true good friends whom I love dearly that can be relied and trusted upon.

How do we know if we've had a good life to be contented and grateful? When we begin to see what we actually have, instead of focusing on what we don't have. When we keep comparing with people who are better off than us, it can make us feel inadequate and discontented. How often do we take a step back and compare with those are much less fortunate? It can be very humbling and make you see the things what you have if you're blinded by discontentment.

Don't get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with being competitive or wanting to improve ourselves and our current state in life by comparing with someone better . Just don't let it get to your head, blindside you and make you forget about the things that you already have in your life.

Try doing a list like I did, even for the smallest needs and things that you're thankful for and are important to you. You will see how much richer and luckier you really are. Go ahead and try it. It's made my day feel better and more positive =)


Anonymous said...

Yes, the whole world knows your birthday falls on Nov 2nd. You have to remind us that. Hehehe...

I must say this is the best post I've ever read in a blog. If everyone is contend with what they have, the world would be a peaceful place to live. But imagine if no one buys thing cos they already have what they need, there won't be so many shopping malls and sales everywhere, right?

The people in the business world knows the weakness of human beings, that is greed and unfulfilled needs. If everyone just wears and eats what they have without buying extras, there won't be selling anything.

I believe it's really in the mentality of a person. And how he/she thinks about needs and wants. But the problem is, as I said, is the weakness in most people that they cannot resist the temptation whenever they see the big word SALES or 50% DISCOUNT!!! Lol...

Mark said...

Thanks a lot Calvin. But I'm not pointing out that we shouldn't indulge in occasional shopping to reward ourselves or buy anything extra. I'm simply implying that most people already have what they need or have more than they think they do. And that they shouldn't emphasize or feel negative if there is something missing that they don't have.

Basic needs are the most important after all, we should feel thankful just to be able to walk, able to eat whenever we want etc. Such simple everyday needs are sometimes so routine, that we don't realize just how precious it is, until see someone without them or lose them ourselves.

I'm not saying you can't get a bigger house, bigger car or a bigger paycheck. It you can improve your life that way, then by all means, do it. I'm just saying to remember and look back at what you already have, and be grateful for everything =)

Anonymous said...

We should appreciate what we have, what we experience, what we ... Should feel thankful ... :) Right now I'm on my 'journey' to build up my career and my future -- most important thing is to find my Mr. Right :D