Standing, getting crushed in the train during peak hour, I looked around and my heart sank. I was surrounded by sullen faces, their eyes focused intently on games on their iPads and smart phones. I took some shots and here goes my thoughts on them.
These are the sullen faces representing a world of people dreading going to work, dreading grinding away at a job they hate.
The gadgets they use as distractions during their morning commute are constant reminders of why they must put themselves through this daily displeasure. They feel they need these things (among others) and their job allows them to have them.
Throughout history, humans have always strived to have better “things,” to have more than their neighbours or at the very least be equal to them.
First, it was outdoing the neighbour who just upgraded from horse and carriage to a car. Later, it was getting a black a white TV, then the cassette player and years later a CD player.
But in today’s modern world where trends change as soon as they begin, where the next version of the latest gadget comes out seemingly straight away, people are driven to work longer hours to afford to be at the forefront of the trends - the latest gadget, the latest car, the latest fashion.
But lurking behind the lives of shiny new cars, flat screen TV’s and iPhones is a void, is a huge deficit and it is not a budget one.
Our world is experiencing a passion and purpose deficit.
Recently, I asked some friends the simple question, “Are you doing what you love or do you have passion for your work?”
The most common answer is “No.”
"I hate my job. I have no passion for it, no motivation".
I can’t count the number of times a close friend has made this statement, frustrated in her situation, frustrated at being stuck in a job purely because of the money.
She has a passion, she has a dream, but she has two big things holding her back from pursuing it - the courage to take the leap from her secure job and the fear of not having enough money to buy those 10 pairs of shoes she doesn’t need.
More often when people explain why they are doing something they are not passionate about, they say it is because they need the money. Now in a perfect world, we would not need money and we could all be on our merry life's journey striving to chase down our passions. But unfortunately, our world is not a utopia and money is something we do need.
We need it to pay for a roof over our heads, we need it to pay for the food on our table and we may need it to support our families.
While I agree that money is a necessity, I look at people who seem unhappy, playing on their gadgets in the train and pose this question:
"Do you really need that?"
Here is the thing about the word “need.” In a society, we tell ourselves we “need” possessions, we “need” to fit in. While in the short term, these things make us happy, in the long run there are only two things we really “need” to be happy and they are passion and purpose.
Think about it, if you ask any parent what the most fulfilling part of their life is, they will most likely say it's raising their children. If you ask them what the most frustrating part of their life is, the answer will most likely be the same too.
This demonstrates one fundamental quality of the human character, having purpose, although frustrating it may be at times, is what gives us the most fulfillment. It is what gives us the most happiness.
During my days climbing the ladder in a corporate world, I was not contented with following the path I was on - a path towards a career where I would be helping someone to fulfill their dream, their endeavors and their passion while mine was left on the back burner. So i took the leap.
I turned down a high paying corporate job for a lower paying job with half the work hours.
I turned down the security of having a steady higher income where I didn’t have to think so hard on where I was spending my money.
I turned it all down so that i would have more time to pursue my passion in photography, to explore and discover my purpose.
And despite the many materialistic sacrifices I had to make, what I discovered was that I never really “needed” those things in the first place.
I could survive without them, I could be happy without them and I was resourceful enough to come up with alternative options.
But the most important lesson out of this is not how to be happily frugal. It's about pursuing your passion, no matter how fustrating, how challenging, is ultimately the key to happiness.
Muster up the courage, take the leap and be prepared to throw all those things you don’t really “need” away.
It’s time that we should start looking at our entire lives as purposeful, passion-filled journeys - not opportunities to collect as many possessions as we can to distract ourselves.
As i always say, be happy and self-fulfilled because that's what living is all about.
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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