Envy kills happiness. By comparing ourselves with others takes focus away from oneself. By complaining, we forget to fix ourselves first.
In my native language Tamil, there is a work of ethics and way of living - Thirukural ( one of the best collection of work on ethics and morality). In fact, I made a website for my own reading - https://randomkural.herokuapp.com
ஏதிலார் குற்றம்போல் தங்குற்றங் காண்கிற்பின் தீதுண்டோ மன்னும் உயிர்க்கு. (190)
Explanation - If they observed their own faults as they observe the faults of others, would any evil happen to men?
We find more problems out in the world than in you as
We look more outwards than looking inwards.
You are not that important
Idea of importance is all about external validation and measuring ourselves against the society in every step. But if you stop for a moment and think. You come and die alone, people forget who you are in a couple of generations. In reality, we are or should be competing with ourselves more and less of external validations. Improving every day and becoming better version of ourselves by the time we hit the bed.
We are probably a granule in whole system of existence. Naval Ravikanth, summarizes this thought of existence in a better way. As a student of science, he says,
Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss
“If you study even the smallest bit of science, you will realize that, for all practical purposes, we are nothing. We’re basically monkeys on a small rock orbiting a small, backwards star in a huge galaxy, which “is in an absolutely staggeringly gigantic universe, which itself may be part of a gigantic multiverse.This universe has been around for probably 10 billion years or more, and will be around for tens of billion years afterwards. So your existence, my existence, is just infinitesimal. It is like a firefly blinking once in the night. Nothing that we do lasts. Eventually you will fade, your works will fade, your children will fade, your thoughts will fade, this planet will fade, the sun will fade . . . If you don’t believe in an afterlife, then you [should realize] that this is such a short and precious life, it is really important that you don’t spend it being unhappy. There is no excuse for spending most of your life in misery. You’ve only got 70 years out of the 50 billion or however long the universe is going to be around.”
Managing Oneself for Happiness
Now that I know I am are a granule and an unimportant person, I currently set myself on a journey to optimize the time and manage myself better. I don’t worry about external validations and opinions. Of course, I listen to everyone with intent to learn, but I validate them on my terms.
So first and foremost is to manage oneself better. Remember we are in the journey of better self. We are always work in progress. We are never done. So few key things I learned from my leaders at work and mentors outside -
- Audit your calendar regularly
- Say “No” more often - [I myself guilty of this. I am still trying]
- Question the old ways always and learn.
- Finding time for your family and friends
Above points are work in progress for most. We either over-do or under-do the things above. Finding the right balance is only through trial and error. We optimize, we make mistakes, we hit snooze, we resume, but we should never stop. Figuring out where you are needed and where your time is well utilized is first step towards happiness in long term. I am learning this in hard way, but I will get there.
Burnout and Happiness
There is no pride in saying “I work 20 hours everyday”. It either coz we are not productive or we are managing ourselves better. Department of Labor says worker fatigue is real and has ways to manage it.
DHH and Jason Fried of Basecamp have written few books on work ethics and many podcast and blog post on calmer workplace and life in general. One such that stands out for me is the work ethics which is not about 70+ hours but more of discipline.
Generally, good leaders and organizations encourage workers to take vacations and time-off. Never glamorize long work hours unless it is critical. We should not be forced to balance your life so hard that they don’t make sense anymore.
Work on things you care about
Life is a single player game , played for a long term value generation. Life is so small to work on things that either bore you or you don’t care about. Two things that result out of that,
- You are not exploring your full potential
- You are living a dull life
We have to take responsibility for our life and its outcomes. You cannot evade it or blame it on others. I myself guilty of this. I always felt I am not realizing my health potentially. It did come to bite me hard and made me to realize the worth of health and eventually its impact in life.
When you hit rock bottom in your life, you realize you are all by yourself. You have to navigate it all by yourself. You are lucky, if you can have your family and friends around. But they can come only to certain distance but after that you are on your own. Own up your health, your work, your life, your creativity, your potential.
Ignore People playing status games
Status not only comes from money ( though it is the most common form ), but it does come in various forms. It starts from school grades, then social games, then money games. Another @naval tweet,
The way to get out of the competition trap is to be authentic, to find the thing you know how to do better than anybody. You know how to do it better because you love it, and no one can compete with you. If you love to do it, be authentic, and then figure out how to map that to what society actually wants. Apply some leverage and put your name on it. You take the risks, but you gain the rewards, have ownership and equity in what you’re doing, and just crank it up.
You have to be so good in what you do, that people can’t ignore you. To be good, you have to enjoy what you do and care about.
- Be yourself, authentic
- Prioritize ruthlessly
- Keep your mind clutter-free
- Focus Inwards
- Quality, not Quantity
- Always play long term game
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