Life, according to me, has four parts (as of this afternoon – January 19, 2015): Presence, Relationships, Materialism, and Contentment. Let me describe each.
Presence is how well I am in keeping things in perspective. We humans are barely in the last second of the last day in the cosmic calendar of the universe. Realize that what we do today will have little effect on the universe is crucial in keeping our sanity. Nothing really matters in the end. We are here just to enjoy life. Making an impact would be nice but it is not necessary. Experiences matter more. And we can only experience something by paying attention to it now.
Relationships, whether it’s family, friends, or significant others, are the glue to human society. Everybody is in a relationship with each other. Some people are strangers whom we will never meet. Some are strangers we will encounter. Some are people we have met but will probably never see again. Building strong relationships is advantageous overall. But there are many types of relationships. I would say family is number one. They are the people we should be able to rely on no matter what happens. Friends is number two, since some friends are merely fair weather friends. A relationship with a significant other will most likely result in positivity but it takes an enormous amount of trust. So for some people, it is optional.
Materialism is important in most people’s eyes. But to me it is tertiary, after Presence and Relationships. Materials, such as clothing, food, shelter, are necessary but only to a certain extent. I cannot wear all the fancy clothes at the same time, I cannot eat all the delicious foods in the world in one sitting, I cannot occupy two dimensions of space at the same time. There is a limit to material goods and that limit is different for each person. Keeping the limit low is like having the cost down so we can maximize the amount of profit.
Contentment, which I think encompasses the above three parts. Contentment is what most of us want. We would like to have little or no stress, to feel positive, and to be successful at whatever we do. Yet contentment resides in a cycle. To be content, we have to be healthy. To be healthy, we need to have relationships and materials so we live comfortably. To establish meaningful relationships and acquire the needed materials we need to work, which can led to stress, and sometimes discontentment.
To me, if contentment is the ultimate goal then everything else is extra. But to keep contentment long lasting, we need to have satisfied the first three parts. Presence is personal perspective on life. Relationship is how we deal with others. Materialism is how we would support ourselves. A good balance is what we should all try to achieve. And it is something I should remember as I walk life’s paths.