Once I buy a Ferrari, then I’ll be happy. Once I become CEO, then people will like me. Once I become the best in the world, then I’ll get respect.
Our culture has programmed us to believe that to be happy you need some-thing to make you happy: a big house, a large bank balance, a fancy job title. So we often spend our lives toiling away for material possessions and power, hoping that when we attain them they’ll make us happy.
But we’ve all heard the age old story about someone reaching the heights of success. They achieve riches and glory beyond their wildest dreams, but once they get there they realise that it’s not what they thought. They feel empty and alone and the money and success doesn’t make them happy.
This is nothing new though. This way of thinking is part of human nature and is a problem that has been around for thousands of years. Luckily, Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BC) – a.k.a The Buddha – had something to say about this.
Suffering Is Universal
The Buddha realised that suffering is an integral part of our existence: from birth to sickness, old age and death. Life is hard.
Day to day suffering is obvious: thirst, pain, illness, death. However, suffering goes deeper than this. Human beings are subject to our own desires and cravings.
The Buddha realised that the root cause of all our suffering is our own desire. We crave sensual pleasures and are attached to worldly possessions and power.
But the satisfaction from these desires are only temporary. Pleasure does not last; or if it does it becomes monotonous. Not getting these things and the continuous pursuit of them is what causes us so much anguish.
The Buddha taught that suffering can be avoided though, by eliminating our desires. We should detach ourselves from craving and attachment to material possessions and power. If we reduce our desires and our attachment to wordly possessions, then we can reduce our suffering.
You Are The Reason For Your Own Suffering
Asides from day to day suffering like thirst and hunger, you are the reason for your own suffering. Your yearning for material possessions and power are what is holding you back. Let go of the idea that someone or something will make you feel a certain way.
It’s good to aim at something and have a goal in mind, but do not obsess about them, do not base your whole self worth on attaining that goal.
Do not define yourself by what you have, instead define yourself by who you are: your character, your sense of compassion, your joy for live, your positive attitude. And maybe as the Buddha says, we may reduce our suffering, be more content and eventually live the good life.
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