To wrap up the year, I’m writing the last of the series. And, I’m still under that premise that we are all Africans.
I recently finished James Altucher’s book, ‘I Was Blind, Now I See: Time to be Happy’ and there really is no better way to wrap up than refer heavily to his many home hitting points on our mis-education.
What is Happiness?
“I believed that marriage would lead to a happy life. That $100 million in the bank would make me happy. That going to great college and graduate school would make me happy. That having a TV show would make me happy. That becoming a chess master would make me happy. That having a lot of sex would make me happy.
The list goes on and on of the things I thought that would have made me happy. Each of the above and 100 things more, made me so desperately unhappy at different points and yet I still fought for them, fought to control what I couldn’t have in a world where I became desperately needy for everything I couldn’t have.
Happiness starts when we have freedom to pursue what’s inside ourselves instead of myriads of joys and pursuits and successes that are outside ourselves” [ref] I Was Blind But Now I See (IWBBNIS), Pg 11[/ref]
It is difficult to come to terms with our pursuit for illusions (which many might mistake for happiness). I’ve written in the past, we want to be like our peers, follow our parent’s advice, be what we want to be; are we really, as Africans, being what we want to be? or, are we letting the relics of our past hold us down?
Altucher recommends some path to happiness that are worth sharing, I’m also adding my insights:
1. Acknowledge that every day of your life you are brainwashed: no, you are NOT the prettiest person around, you are NOT the most brilliant, you are NOT the most successful, heck, get over your ego, and you can began to step the path towards happiness.
2. Acknowledge those that brainwashed you: Every culture has its own pattern of brainwashing. One very strong one I combat as an African male is the ego of being a male which, while growing up, the culture through parents continuously reinforced in me.
3. Happiness is the only goal: it’s not about anything else, it’s about happiness, and this, is where things get slightly tricky. Remember the definition above. Happiness is not the externals, it is: ” the pursuit of what’s inside ourselves,” no more.
4. The Obstacles of happiness are sickness, inertia, doubts, laziness, carelessness, vacillating, lack of progress, delusions, and falling backwards. And that brings us to the next point,
5. The path to happiness involves being as healthy as we can: physically, emotionally. mentally, and spiritually. And I should add, spirituality here doesn’t have to be religion; you and I know how much that is corrupted.
The Westernization of Mis-Educating?
This will not be my first mention of the failure of the current system of education — some would argue that I should speak for myself not them; college (or university is important!).
In the book, JA recounts his experience performing so well in school and failing to perform in the real world as a computer programmer. That section didn’t surprise me at all, I know how hard it is being a performing programmer (see my bio below).
There is serious ignorance and brainwashing that the “Western” system of education is pushing and we, Africans, have become victims. Maybe it will sound hypocritical considering I schooled in the West but let me be honest — I don’t have much to show for it.
And as I continually tell my friends, the money could have been spent elsewhere, and would have been much more profitable.
To really educate, “sometimes, you have to throw a kid in the water to teach them how to swim” (or let them fail so they can learn. Not “drown” since we’re not animals). That’s the way to learn.
An African and the Real World ( or post world?)
The most common question I get since I graduated last year is: “How is life after college treating you?”, or, “How are you feeling the real world?”; I’m glad those asking are acknowledging that there is the real world and the college world. Let’s talk about that world.
I’ve been out of school for less than two years and I’ve had 3 different jobs — “corporate stability is, and has always been, a myth.” Please repeat that as a mantra. Wait, everything is a risk, “…we are never without risk. Risk is life. But now we are forced to embrace it. The good thing is, sometimes embracing leads to love.”
This is an age where you have to love. Love yourself and do what you love, generate satisfaction from within. Thinking about having that golden job, or that magic salary or that comfy house/car.
When that thought comes, stop and repeat to yourself: My happiness starts when I give myself freedom to pursue what’s inside me.