Pursuing the Why in Life

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The road to happiness is like this road. You know it’s there, but it vanishes as you approach it.

Recently, I had been listening to this book called “Starting with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” It reveals the stories of people who have become great leaders. Their secret: they had a sense of purpose. They asked the question “Why” before anything else. Their life was driven by this question: Why.

By asking the question “Why?”, it became clear what their purpose was in life. He cites great leaders like Martin Luther King who once had a dream to change the American’s society views on race, specifically on African-Americans.

By asking why, the Wright Brothers were able to build an industry that we now call aviation.

By asking why, Steve Jobs challenged the status quo and revolutionized the PC and the mobile phone industry.

Starting with Why crossed paths with another project that I’m doing, which also traverses the questions of why are we doing the things we do. Answer: We’re all in pursuit of happiness. Happiness takes different forms in our lives. But for me, the ultimate form of happiness is being able to emancipate myself from the rat race and pursue passions that would bring joy not only to me but also my family.

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As you look out the window, you often wish you were out there chasing your dream. But reality always kicks in, and you go back to your comfortable office chair and work.

Okay, I’m not here to preach nor offer a silver-bullet to anyone who wishes to be emancipated from their current shackles of the daily grind. To my mind, life is NOT about work. And work does not define you. Money is important but it shouldn’t be the end.

Lately, I realized that the most precious human currency is not money. Guess what? It’s TIME! Time is irreplaceable. Time is not infinite. Time is a limited resource that our creator has granted us on this earth. So why waste it on a pursuit of the wrong forms of happiness.

When we were young, time wasn’t a problem. We procrastinated and we wasted time on mundane activities for quick and satisfying rewards. For us, time was the least important matter. We were out chasing money, thinking that it would buy us more time.

Twenty to forty years later, money would probably be enough to buy us some laughs and satisfaction; a nice and comfortable home; a collection of gadgets and technology; and perhaps a symbolic trophy of success in the form of a career.

However, happiness remains elusive, just like that vanishing point in the highway.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

“Time flies when you’re having fun,” an old adage kept coming back to me. Yes, it flies so fast, you suddenly find yourself in a place that is so unfamiliar, so different. We look at ourselves in the mirror. We see a different image of ourselves: older, tired, beaten-down.

It’s not too late, however, to start exercising again; looking good and slowly picking yourself up–redesigning your life in pursuit of happiness.

Start asking yourself why are you doing the stuff that you do. What is the purpose? What’s the impact. Only after that you get clarity, a meaning, a direction. It’s never too late to begin now.

Ask why now.

Published by

Erwin Oliva

Putting a dent on the universe one day at a time