I have learned many lessons in the past few decades, and while I'm sure there are many more to come, I am very comfortable with where I am right now. Although we are complex beings and seem to be drawn to complexity in life, many moons ago I decided to make my life as uncomplicated as possible – hence my mantra: "Life is not simple but don't make it complex."
I'd like to share four principles I work to live by:
People in the western world seem to always be searching for happiness. Well, happiness is over-rated as it is a fleeting emotion. I believe we should rather seek contentment. We have so many things to be thankful for and, very often, take much of it for granted.
Contentment is not dependent on your financial circumstances. There are many extremely wealthy people who are also extremely unhappy. At the same time, there are those who find richness in life although they are not wealthy.
I have been broke, and I have been wealthy. During a tough financial time in my life, I decided to maintain a positive outlook rather than give in to the alternative. This experience helped to reinforce my belief that contentment is a state of mind. It is a matter of realising how fortunate you are rather than focusing on the negatives.
My life has always been interesting (and, at times, a roller coaster!) but I can say that I am rarely an unhappy person as I choose to focus on the many positives in life.
Living in harmony with others makes life enjoyable and minimises stress. It requires wise choices – those that are made with a clear, logical mind and without the influence of negative emotions like anger and fear.
I feel emotions like everyone else, but I work hard to not let them control me. I rarely make an impetuous decision. Instead, I tend to step back and let my emotions subside, and then try to think of a logical and sensible solution.
Other people can cause disharmony in your life. There are people I enjoy being with, but there are also people I've chosen to see infrequently or not at all. Of course, in these situations, it is also a good idea to check in with yourself to ensure that you're not the cause of the problem.
I am mindful of enjoying most things I do. I used to guzzle down my meals, but I have finally learned to take the time to enjoy the aroma, texture and flavour of the food I eat. There is so much to enjoy: being able to move, the comfort of your bed, a hot shower, a wonderful meal at a restaurant. The list is vast. We simply need to be aware of the joy to be had in life.
Wisdom is a challenging quality to attain. It is perhaps a combination of knowledge, experience, intellect and clear, sensible thinking. I believe people need to think far more before they act. Here's an example: People who are perpetually late tend to blame everything else but themselves. The simple truth, though, is that they don't think through their actions and prepare sufficiently. Wisdom is getting to the airport at least two hours before departure, instead of 30 minutes. Stupidity is getting to the airport late a second time.
Something to CHEW on
I was amused to discover that the acronym of the above principles is the same as my surname. Of course, you don't have to be a Chew to strive for these qualities – but life would be so much better if we could all get them right.
The last time I was in lockdown was in 1969, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, because racial riots broke out...