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A Million Dollar Question

I just took my second shot of the COVID vaccine last week. I can rest easy knowing that antibodies will kick in within a matter of days, and I can live a more at ease life with adequate protection from this dreadful disease.


The day I got that second vaccination shot at York College, I was feeling good at myself. And gained a sense of accomplishment. I was satisfied. Happy. Adequate. Fulfilled. Maybe for a certain moment at least. It didn’t last though.


After a few days, I was back to my old self. Worrying about the here and there of everyday life. Of having to take care of my dad. Take care of my mom. Take care of my family. Take care of a future family. Take care of a business. Take care of a household. A lot of stuff to take care of.


And it could be burdensome and tiring. And it made me realize that I just got a miraculous second dose shot of the COVID vaccine and I now have adequate protection from this dreadful disease. I should be ecstatic. I should be feeling on top of the world. I should be on cloud nine - living life larger than ever.


Yet, I’m still sitting here feeling down and burdened with the need to take care of so many things. Everyday life hitting me in the face. Not feeling content nor satisfied. It made me realize that happiness and fulfillment is fleeting. Things are impermanent. They come and then they will go.


And I guess that’s both a blessing and a curse. The good times won’t last. But neither will the bad. This feeling of discontentment and anxiety will pass too. And there will be greener pastures down the road. Things that I can look forward to and be grateful for.


It also made me realize that it doesn’t matter what I “get”. I will never be “happy ever after”. I will never find that ever-lasting satisfaction of always being on top of the world. Always being on cloud nine. Always being fulfilled and never unhappy at any moment.


Look at me. I just got the miraculous second dose of the COVID vaccine. And not even a week later, I am still sitting here burdened by the worries of everyday life. But, that realization in itself comes with a silver lining.


And, for me, it is that I shouldn’t go about searching for a feeling. Chasing after happiness. Going after this need for peace of mind or ever-lasting bliss and satisfaction. Because no matter how hard you chase after it, it won’t be with you forever. It comes and it goes. Like the tidal waves. Like life itself. We are all specks in this multi-verse. And we will come and go as well.


But, that’s not a depressing thought at all. It is quite liberating. I, myself, am usually trapped by this desire for more. This desire for more money. More achievement. More satisfaction. I’d think that if only I can make $100K per year, then my life would be complete. And then once I reach that goal, I think to myself, if only I can make $200K per year, then my life would be complete. And on and on it goes.


This desire for more and belief that achievement will lead to fulfillment can be quite misleading. This is not from learning it thru a textbook. This is not from people telling me how life should be. This is from my own first-hand experience of life. Of wanting more. And then achieving. But then still not satisfied.


Of getting a breathtaking COVID vaccine that in essence itself prevents me from being hospitalized by COVID-19. But, then, just one week later, back to worrying about the trivialities of everyday life.


Of having achieved a DTM. Of having broken thru with my prior social anxiety. Of having given back to society in different ways. But, still, not feeling at ease or unburdened or satisfied. Why is that?


What’s the secret sauce? What’s the key towards unlocking the presence of mind and joy that is within us all? That is the million dollar question. What is holding us back? What is it that can lead us to inner peace and inner well-being?


Is it the satisfaction of attaining a house? Of getting married? Of earning more money? Of having good weather outside? Of getting a once-in-a-lifetime mRNA COVID vaccine? Are there any externalities out there that can help guide us towards a lifetime of satisfaction and ease?


I don’t know. Not getting a COVID vaccine. Not earning a million dollars. Not achieving the pinnacle of Toastmasters. Not having a wonderful girlfriend. None of these externalities guarantee inner peace. Because inner peace is just that. It is within. Not without.


It depends on you and you alone. Not from the challenge of chasing girls. Not from the roller coaster ride of earning higher salary or gaining that promotion or getting engaged or getting married or having kids. None of that. It all depends on you. Your mindset. Your perception. Your well-being. Your thoughtfulness. Your compassion. Your empathy.


Peace and wellness and all that is “good” and healthy in life depends on your perspective. And yours alone. And I’ve learned this from my firsthand everyday experience. Of having to deal with the ups and downs of life. All the externalities that come with enjoying good weather or walking thru a rainstorm. Of getting that high-level client or losing a potential customer. Of having a wonderful conversation with my parents or an infuriating experience with them. Everyday, externalities will come and go. Go up and down. But, our mindset is what stays (for better or worse).


So, everyday is a chance to practice. To work that muscle of inner well-being. Of not letting externalities lift you up or get you down. Of finding some will some way to find that inner peace that is latent within us all. To feel fulfilled even during times of distress. To feel peace of mind even during times of turbulence. To feel blissful even in times of external tragedy. There is a way. And that way is within. Not without.


So, the million dollar question is still sitting there. Waiting to be answered for all eternity. How do we achieve this inner state of eternal well-being. Eternal “bliss”. Eternal “happiness”? How do we do so? I leave the answer (if there is one) to each and every one of you.

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