‘It is good to value the things money can buy, but it is good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the precious things in life that money can’t buy.’
There are many things that are extremely vital for us but we may not give it any thought. There are many things that are hard to grasp and even harder to explain, especially to those minds that live in a closed and oppressive society as ours. There are many things that need to be thought about and adopted in our lives. There are many new things to learn and old things to unlearn in life. And among these things there is a great duty to perform. A sacred inviolable duty, and we spend our whole life trying to violate it. I call this supreme duty next to worshipping our Creator. Our duty to ourselves.
‘Life must be lived forwards, but it can only be understood backwards.’ – Soren Kierkegaard
How true it is that life is what actually goes on with us while we make other plans. What happens on a daily basis constitutes life as a whole. And we spend our whole life in learning, educating, earning and rearing. Everyone undergoes these phases in life. Hence all claim to live life but what have we lived if we have not made any difference, if we have not contributed, if we have not thought, if we have not revolted, if we have not questioned…
Our experience of living is composed of many compromises. Why? Submissions. Why? Fallacies. Why? Sacrifices. Why? Dependencies. Why? Regret. Why? Sorrow. Why? There are so many of us who are living because they are born. There are so many of us who consider life a burden, a bore. There are so many of us for whom life is for living but not worth living. There are so many of us who are not able to justify their life and existence. We are not able to understand that we ought to live a life of purpose, achievement and happiness. This maybe unnecessary for the survival of life itself, but is essential for its growth and, if this means something to us, for its happiness. This makes us to know our Self, discover its needs and meet its demands. This leads us to a search of our ‘Self’…
It is extremely important for an individual to be happy. Being alive is one thing; being spirited and happy is another. This zest makes all the difference between living your life and loving your life. The joy is not in things, but in us. If you want to be happy, BE. This enables a person to spread happiness to others. Happiness is experienced when your life gives you what you are willing to accept. Unless a person is happy on his own terms, he can never do justice to his self or to another. And hence the creation of circumstances that lead to his happiness is a prerequisite to the achievement of this high goal of man. It is our duty to keep our own selves happy and only then try to make others happy. It is only then that a person can genuinely make others happy, without any regret or sacrifice.
It is also important to be strong. Life will be worth only when we make it worth. And this is possible if we are strong enough to do so. God never promised us to take away our pain – he promised us the strength to bear it. As is said: ‘Pain and suffering is inevitable. Being miserable is optional.’ Hence, we should not pray for an easy life but rather pray to be a strong person. Strong in terms of mind. Strong enough to live and accept every thing that life offers – pain, grief, happiness, wealth, opportunity, and deprivation. Strong enough to set our own standards of behavior regardless of how others behave towards us. We should look upon adversity as an experience that will leave us stronger for the life ahead. Such strength is power. That arms us to face anything, even the unexpected.
It is important to develop or adopt a philosophy of right living in order to nurture great thoughts, values and beliefs. What is the worth of a being that has not thought, believed and advocated a philosophy of his own? Or if not this, then read, observed and followed a philosophy of another. It is said: ‘Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.’
Therefore, the right ideas, the right values and right philosophy should be advocated and spread. We must adopt a philosophy of reason and self-interest. This self-interest should be fully loaded with rationality and consideration. It is here that I advocate the philosophy of Objectivism propounded by Ayn Rand. To quote her: “My philosophy, in absence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.’
It is important for an individual to have rationality. Reason is a tool in the hands of a wise man. This equips him to fight the battle of his life and justify his existence upon earth. We are conditioned to listen to others instead of trust our own instincts and common sense. However, we must utilize our mind and logic to think and then act accordingly. This does not mean not listening to others. It means listening to others but not passively accepting everything that comes our way. Reason is man’s only means of acquiring knowledge and emerging as a winner. We need to develop an independent, logical, and reasonable mind.
It is important to have some self-interest – a word implying selfishness and greed to a common man. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be so. It is rightly said that it is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. It is then that a person is able to genuinely help others without any claim of pity or sacrifice. In seeking self-interest, we are able to avoid a monstrous feeling called pity. Though considered a virtue by people, in reality, this emotion destroys man, his worth and his ego. In seeking self-interest, we are also able to avoid self-sacrifice. Again considered a virtue by people, in reality, this self-sacrifice is a violation of our duty to us and our right to exist. It is this Self that can be, but must not be, sacrificed. It is this un-sacrificed self that others must respect in us and we in them. It is said that to be able to look back upon one’s past life with satisfaction is to live twice. And this is possible if we have no regrets, no sacrifices to our credit.
It is important to have individuality and an ego. Everybody has a story and everybody is a story. This story involves these elements in their true essence. The elements that make us stand out in a crowd and stand by our own Self. Man’s ego and his individuality lies at the root of all progress. If we don’t believe in and stand for something, we have no integrity, no individuality. If we give up our ego, we lose all there is in us. We cannot be a traitor to anything or anyone, except to our Self. We cannot be faithful to others unless we are faithful to our Self. We do the greatest harm to mankind by destroying our ego, our individuality. We should not be forced to do anything that goes against our will, belief or ego. And if we are, we ought to refuse to surrender our self-respect, integrity and ego to anyone.
It is important to have consideration. A consideration that makes us realize the responsibility of and to our life. This consideration enables us to understand that each one of us has a life to live – a life of our own and not of another or for the sake of another, whether good or bad. It prevents us from resorting to escapism. If each one of us will accept and face our life and responsibilities that go with it, the world will be a happier and easier place to live in. If not, it leads to an intra-personal conflict, a frustration within Self. Why should we fall into this trap if we learn to live the right way, with the right attitude assuming our responsibility with each decision that we take, with each move that we make?
It is important to achieve something in life. What is the worth of a being if he has not contributed anything, not achieved anything? Though we judge ourselves by what we feel we are capable of doing, but others judge us by what we have already done. What we have already achieved. This contribution may be in terms of thought, philosophy or deed. That is why great people direct us not to follow footsteps of others but rather try to create our own milestones. Create something new. Especially if it makes a difference.
We need to defend our Self and justify our existence. We need to nourish our Self with things that are important to us. There is no need to scorn those who make the attempt. People, who are not doing anything substantial, radical or incredible, should not stop others from doing so. There are people who always compromise and kill their small revolutions. But there are some who can’t and don’t. We all have to live our share of life. How we live, that makes all the difference.
‘Man – every man – is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life. –– Ayn Rand.