By Vaail Zahir Hussain
"A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it." Albert Einstein’s theory of happiness
Such simple words but I have learned that words, not just its simplifications, but words have one of the most profound impact upon our lives. And these words did for me.
I believe we all search and yearn for happiness. I shared Einstein’s theory with a renowned local editor and his initial comment was, “we professionals work hard to actually struggle. In Maldives, the fisherman lives the happiest and most contented of lives.” I gathered what he was alluding to was the struggle of raising a family in Male City, the burden of living costs, and the claustrophobia causing an unhealthy family life and the struggle of life in this city.
As true as it is, we must go deeper into it. For life is always hard and a lot of hard work. What Einstein simply said was a simple life will bring ‘more’ happiness. The pursuit of success will probably give you some happiness too, but surely at a cost and requires a lot of sacrifices. And the constant restlessness in search of success will have huge costs.
A worrying trend evident in our society is money and then some more money. The constant pursuit to get ahead financially. Some might criticise and say I would not have that worry thus have no moral authority to criticise those who seek it. I do not and will not expect for those that do so to the detriment of society (ie. corruption and through subversion of justice etc, but that is another topic for another day).
Well to clarify, I too have that worry of and about money. And yes, I have been very blessed and lucky in life too, and I am continuously humbled and appreciative of it. But I do believe that constant pursuit of monetary benefits and the ‘greed is good’ mantra of capitalism has eroded the beauty of humanism and living a wholesome life. Take a second to imagine the tuna fisherman, the beauty of its simplicity and the rewards! It truly is like listening to a score by Andrea Bocelli.
Should we all drop everything and become fishermen? Well no, not really. I have had this belief that ‘keyolhu logic’ (fisherman’s logic) as I call it, is a good way to approach life. Basically do not let mundane immaterial things matter to you and get all worked up on it. Rather, prioritise what is important to you and your life. Let coffee table talk be just that -- coffee table talk.
Another conversation I recently had with a self made successful person: his worry was that he was leaving too much financial assets for his growing children when they become adults, which could result in them taking things for granted. I did agree on the premise, “ ‘are we teaching our kids to live life in a constant cycle of learning and to survive’ or are we going to make them couch potatoes?” But right there, I should have said he should not to worry as much. Because as a parent he was already taking that responsibility of thinking ahead to their pitfalls, thus will lay good foundations and as a result, he will be raising his children with good values to appreciate their blessings.
To survive and be happy in this early part of the 21st century would probably be more challenging than anything we have ever faced over the last few centuries. Globalisation has made us world citizens and also brought us into a more polarised world -- political, socio-economic and environmental changes affect us as a society more than ever before. Remember, there are somethings we can change and the rest is always a footnote/chapter in history. We have no alternative but to live life.
For everyone, the search for happiness will be unique. Just take Einstein’s theory of happiness with a pinch of salt and always try to be a better person, true to one’s beliefs and hopes. Do not take it as a formula that would work for all woes you may have. However, see it in relative terms. All we leave this life will be how we have lived it.
Editor's Note: Vaail has worked in many areas of news and infotainment media industry for the last 16 years, and currently works on his own business ventures.