I’m not sure why happiness is so hard to find. I think from a young age we are taught to be hungry in life, to be competitive, to always be striving for more. While ambition is a good thing to have, it often prevents us from being truly happy because we are always evaluating our own deficiencies based on what others have.
I’m not sure if it’s an Asian mom thing, but back when I was growing up, our parents would always try to one-up their friends in a passive aggressive way. First it was who is better at piano. Then it was whose child got better grades in school. I remember one time my mom actually got mad at me because a stranger complimented her friend’s daughter on being “cute,” and didn’t say anything about me (also standing there). I was told to try to be cuter next time. Stand out more. Be more talkative. Smile more. Stop hiding from the adults. After that, she started making me wear dresses more often and would braid my hair like a little Chinese doll.
I think it’s my rebellion against the Chinese way of competing constantly with your peers, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less and less competitive. My new attitude has been criticized by nearly everyone in my life; people want to know why I don’t do more with my career. Why I still pursue modeling and acting even though I don’t make a ton of money doing it. And why I’m not continuously striving to be a woman CEO, like so many other women in the Bay Area working in tech.
But I think with that much ambition comes a certain level of stress, worry, and discontent. In my opinion it’s just not worth it.
I recently went to a yoga class where the instructor told us to clear our minds and use yoga to release all of the tension from the day. But I don’t want to use yoga as a means of relaxation and escape from my life. I want to have such a happy life that I don’t have to escape from it. A life that is content with what I have and doesn’t compare my accomplishments, ambitions, our material possessions to other people. A life as free from stress as possible and free from comparing myself to others.
For it’s not often that we look at our lives and say, “I have enough.”