Experience, Relationships and Meaningful Work

Many people have been motivating themselves with material things. I once read about a self-help book which says that you ought to put pictures of that beautiful house or that fancy car you've been dreaming about at your desk where you can see it everyday. You don't have to actually look at desks to see that this is indeed what people do. Just look at cover photos in Facebook and you'll know how many people have been heeding this advice.
Self-help book authors argue that these material objects will help you go further by motivating you to do more. And I believe those techniques could actually work. Fancy stuff does motivate us to work harder. We really do think that material things we dream about can make us happy. And from my own experience, I can say that these objects could bring some happiness although it is the kind of happiness that doesn't last that long.

Even now, I am not immune to wanting stuff for myself. It's very difficult to not want something when you see how great it looks or imagine how useful that object might be to you.

Even for people who have long ago realized that acquiring stuff is not the way to live, getting rid of this tendency is a struggle. But it's no excuse to stop trying. We are justified to want things that we need but it's very easy to want more than enough. Once we have all that we need, we immediately move on to wanting something more. It becomes a vicious cycle of greed that poisons the way we live our lives.

So what's really important? I would like to highlight three things that I think are important in a happy life. I did not come up with these three on my own. I got the idea from other people who once lived thinking objects will make them happy but later on realized they really won't. They've been there and done that. So for those of us who are just starting out on our journey, their experience can save us a lot of trouble.


What is life really but a series of experiences. So to live a full life, we would have to maximize our experiences in every possible way. That means doing things we have not done before, going to places we've never been to before, meeting people we have never met, eating food we've never tasted and learning from cultures that are different from our own. Sitting all day everyday inside the house is no way to live. We should strive to gain different experiences every new day.

To be honest, I could use some of these tips. I have always thought of myself as not the adventurous type. I remained content being at home. I didn't feel I would enjoy any outdoor activities. I preferred the comfort of home. I guess that makes me an introvert. And I do not deny that. But I have come to realize that sticking to this idea is not helpful. There's only so much you can do within the confines of your home while there is an abundance of experiences to be had outside.


More than our desires to gain material wealth, cultivating our relationships has been said to bring lasting joy and contentment to many. The bonds that we form with other people such as our families, friends and loved ones give our lives meaning more than anything else.

Building long-lasting connections is never easy. I know I have made a few but I can do so much more. For instance, I realize how I have very small time spent with colleagues outside of work. Friendships could flourish here if I had the wisdom to make the effort.

All the people who I spent considerable time with are those that I think I should initiate stronger connections. It won't always work out but to not try at all is nothing but laziness. I realize I am not much of a people-person. But I derive happiness from other people as well. So going out a little from my comfort zone is a very small compromise to make. Relationships, after all, are one of the very important reasons why we exist with others.

Meaningful Work

Our work consumes most of our time. So it's very important that we find our job meaningful. If we can, then it will bring us happiness more than fancy toys will.

But not everyone is fortunate to find themselves doing the things they love. Sometimes, it takes effort to really appreciate what you do. Others find it necessary to change jobs that they can be happy about. I believe the key to having one is to feel that you enjoy the process more than the results. Otherwise, you will just force yourself to get on with the things you hate doing.

Seeking meaningful work or striving to find meaning to what you do because you know how important that is for your well-being is the very first critical step. Awareness can lead you to go further and be better.

Photo Credit: Lyndon Villareal

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