by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà
It seems that every time you check your social media or email there are inspirational sayings or wise counsel from friends and strangers alike.
Even if you spent your fair share of time in your younger days going through self-improvement books, you might still feel tempted to read this latest “secret to success and/or happiness” and contemplate its meaning and whether there’s something in there for you to consider.
Not to disappoint you, and at the risk of sounding cynical, but you’re wasting your time.
“Follow your dreams and you’ll be successful!” and “Trust your passion, and success will follow!” might make some sort of sense when you’re young and dreams and passion feel like vehicles that may take you where you want to go to.
But life tells you that dreams are hard to achieve and that passion can fade all-too-quickly.
In a talk when launching his new book, Algebra of Happiness, Scott Galloway, author, entrepreneur, and professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, said: “We have speakers here every week, and they all end with some variation of ‘Follow your dreams’. And many of these people have indeed found success and are millionaires.” Or have they?
When you look around for encouragement during the prime of your youth or to get you through a tough period of your life, it’s easy to look up to people you think are happy, successful, respected, celebrated, or whatever.
Everyone and everything, though, has a bright side and a dark side. You don’t get to see the dark side of people celebrated in life, and even if you try and follow their footsteps it could be decades or perhaps eternity before you’re as accomplished as they appear to be.
So, better to try and build your own life from what you have, and keep working at it. Instead of following your dreams or passion, find something you are good at and do it passionately.
When you were young and easily taken in by grand ideas of freedom, daily routines seemed boring and lacking in basic appeal. People inject ideas into your head, such as live life to the fullest, in the moment, or as if tomorrow will never come.
But what if tomorrow keeps coming and you’ve spent all you had and all your energy on today? What can possibly be left for tomorrow?
A popular saying has it: "Sow action, reap habits, sow good habits, reap character, and character defines fate."
It's more worthwhile to focus your time, energy, and effort on making your daily life better, more meaningful and more rewarding.
Daily routines are, of course, vital for your well-being. Showering daily keeps you clean, a good meal a day keeps you healthy, a job makes you feel useful and earns you money to live on. And at the end of every single day, a good sleep recharges your batteries.
In between washing, eating, working, and sleeping, there is plenty of time for entertainment, perhaps travel every few months, family visits, or outings with friends. Routines aren’t likely to overwhelm you, and actually give your life a certain structure.
Everyone has read about extraordinary people like Harvard drop-out Bill Gates, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, or the man with his eyes on Mars, Elon Musk.
But they are just a few people in an ocean of humanity, and you really don’t have to be like them to have a fulfilling life.
Life can be broken down into years, and the years broken down into days. There are good days and bad days for all. Those pesky daily routines keep you balanced and rested for the next challenge. And a “next challenge” there will always be.
Whether you’re on top of the world or in the pit of despair, at the end of the day you’ll need some shut-eye. A warm comfortable bed, and a deep, sound sleep prepares you for tomorrow, much more so than any words of purported wisdom. VNS