Is Life What You Have Or About Your Pursuits?, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

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Is Life What You Have Or About Your Pursuits?, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú


Looking for happiness by owning things is a tasteless pursuit, because happiness cannot be found in things that were never meant to provide it. Placing undue emphasis on money and things is destructive and unsustainable. Life is meaningless if it is defined by the things we possess and not by the things we pursue.
Over the last three decades, we have been saddled with a generation that won’t go away without taking everything they can from the system. With the grab and grab mentality, our society has created in the young, the mindset of the end justifying the means. It is all about money and possessions. Money has become the only yardstick for measuring success, with no recognition given to contributions to humanity through selfless interventions. Well, money by itself is not spectacular; it is imperfect. What it can do that is important: Money yields freedom and choices; but is it ever enough? Is there an end to material acquisitions? Neither money nor the things we buy is ever enough. We need reminders that things won’t fit into caskets.
Stealing, corruption, advance fee fraud, Internet scam, adulterations, counterfeiting and many more vices are all about money. Why the craze? Is money the be all, cure all? No! Unearned income is particularly pernicious and destructive. It creates an emptiness that instigates further impulses to indulge and dig deeper into the habit. It leads to taking comfort and pride in things. Things are just things, they can’t fill that yawning void because only an empty life is one defined in terms of physical possessions.
I have always wondered why did Nigeria and Nigerians became poorer in the real sense after the Civil War? It is because the country and its citizens were focused on what money buys and not on the utility of money. Money is important but it is not everything.
Happiness is not found in houses, new cars, and closets full of expensive clothing. It is found in meeting basic needs and investing in people and processes to make them better. Even though we spend much of our lives in pursuit of things, a meaningful life is not found in things. Looking for happiness by owning things is a tasteless pursuit, because happiness cannot be found in things that were never meant to provide it. Placing undue emphasis on money and things is destructive and unsustainable. Life is meaningless if it is defined by the things we possess and not by the things we pursue.
I have always wondered why did Nigeria and Nigerians became poorer in the real sense after the Civil War? It is because the country and its citizens were focused on what money buys and not on the utility of money. Money is important but it is not everything. With money, we can get life’s basic needs, and achieve our life’s goals. So much good can be done with money and so much suffering can be avoided. Has more money made us happy? All around us, in our newspapers, magazines, tabloids, and on television, the spiritual and psychological poverty of the rich and famous is laid bare. Why? Once basic human needs are met, having a lot more money loses utility, unless it is invested in people and making things better.
Money’s potential for life satisfaction depends on how it is spent. Money should not cost us our soul, dignity, and joy. Money can buy happiness, only if it is spent on buying memories. How we spend money, time, and energy defines our view of success.
Money loses utility at some point because of its limitations. Money can afford us the best vacations and travel experiences but it cannot generate that spirit of wonder necessary to appreciate the beauty in nature. With money in hand, we can acquire skills and build talents but not the courage and discipline to stay the course and excel. Money can empower us to help another but it cannot create the desire to do so. Money can buy attention but it cannot buy affection. That is why, what we do, what we engage in for the sake of humanity, is what gives definition and meaning to our lives, not what we have.
As individuals, we must ask ourselves always: How much do I really need? What is it going to cost me to get these? The answers to these two questions are our individual key to happiness. Money’s potential for life satisfaction depends on how it is spent. Money should not cost us our soul, dignity, and joy. Money can buy happiness, only if it is spent on buying memories. How we spend money, time, and energy defines our view of success. In their book Minimalism, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus left us a nugget of wisdom – love people, use things because the opposite never works.
Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for . Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo

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