The Best Things in Life are Free

When I was six or seven years old, I used to be obsessed with the idea of money. It seems rather odd for a child to have such a strong fascination for something so superficial. You would expect a little girl to ask for a Barbie doll or a stuffed toy as a birthday present, but not me. I was more interested in acquiring money, just because of the transitory happiness it brought. However, as I grew older, I began to value love, happiness, and health over money and other material possessions. I began to realize the true worth of friends and family who care about you and the power of good etiquettes and a strong mind which ultimately help you succeed in life.

Today in Pakistan, wealth is synonymous with status, and money is valued more than the lives of individuals. People are murdered daily because of unpaid debts and thousands of lives are at stake because of the greed for money. We live in a world where everything revolves around money and wealth is considered a necessity. People devote their lives to pursue monetary gains in hopes of earning esteem and prestige. They’ve allowed money to shape and mold their personalities and perceptions in an entirely different way. I’ve lived in Pakistan for almost half of my life now and have grown out of that mindset, but many people here are still concerned with acquiring more and more money to achieve self-satisfaction. To be honest, the avarice for money is distorting our values. While the rich display their opulence ostentatiously, others suffer to make ends meet.

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Nowadays, people are judged by what brands they wear. However, there is a cruel reality behind all those price tags. The truth is, many times people are quick to form opinions based on what a person is wearing which denies us the opportunity to get to know a person from the inside. The fact of the matter is, the way we dress certainly does have an impact on how we are viewed and categorized in society, but it should not be the only criteria by which we’re being judged. Many people cannot afford such expensive brands yet our society has put a price on everything. Gaining money and power, be it through legal or illegal means, has become a trend and having knowledge and a respectable personality is of no use anymore. People are more concerned with what car someone drives and what their social position is rather than their preferences or mannerisms.

What many people fail to understand is that wealth is a fickle friend; here today, but gone tomorrow. Superficial traits such as wealth and status are appreciated while genuine characteristics of sincerity and sharing are ignored. The rich are respected as money is associated with power. In Pakistan, for example, the wealthy are able to get away with almost anything, from bribing police officers to getting huge loans pardoned. Moreover, the greed for money leads to all other evils. It causes jealousy and unnatural competition, even between friends and families, and creates a huge gap between the haves and have-nots. Not to mention the fact that it is the root of most crimes. Often times it causes family feuds and separations. In most cases, families start to drift apart over silly things such as property inheritances.

Many people spend a fortune on education and then waste it all with substandard results. People do not realize the true value of a good education. Ask the street boy who earns pennies selling balloons to support his family about the actual value of education. Similarly, Money cannot buy good health. Ask the millionaire who suffered from multiple diseases about his health on his death bed. Ask an orphan about the value of loving parents and siblings. Life’s greatest treasures are intangible and therefore, you cannot put a price on them. There is much more to the world than just credit cards and saving accounts.

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According to Edmond Burke, “If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free, if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.”

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The Key to Happiness ☯

I would define happiness as a state of being entirely satisfied and pleased with yourself and your surroundings. It was only until recently when I started thinking of myself as a “happy” person.  Before that I was always comparing myself to others, holding grudges, trying to be perfect at everything I did, and regretting past mistakes. But recently I learned that the key to being happy is in my own hands. I didn’t have to depend on others for the way I felt about myself. I realized that in order to be happy, I’d have to let go of the past and learn to move on and accept life as it is. Now, whenever I’m in a bad mood, I try to focus on all the positive things in my life, things that bring me happiness. The most important thing to remember is that you have control over your happiness. Surround yourself with relatively optimistic people, listen to upbeat music, express gratitude, find meaning for everything you do, believe in yourself, and savour every single moment. After all, you know what they say, the happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.

One of the most important things in my life is music. Music is what makes me happy and holds a very special place in my heart. Although it brings me happiness, it has the ability to alter my mood with any given circumstance, which is one of the reasons why I love it so much. I can go from feeling extremely depressed, to a state of great contentment within an instant. Music transports me to different dimensions; it sets me free. Whether I’m listening to it in my car while travelling, in bed before sleeping, at a party while dancing, or at home while cleaning my room, it helps me escape from the real world and just let myself go. It’s a way of expressing my emotions and feelings, and through it, I am able to relate to other people and their experiences. I’ve been listening to music for as long as I can remember. I still have a ton of old CD’s stacked up in my closet, with the artists ranging from Usher, Nelly, and Beyoncé, to Sean Paul, Vanessa Carlton, and The Black Eyes Peas. I even remember buying my very first iPod when it first came out. It brought me so much joy to be an owner of one of the most revolutionary music devices that was ever created. Ever since then, I’ve stored all my greatest tracks right in my iPod or on my phone. And the best part about it was that I could listen to my favorite songs anywhere, anytime! Apart from just listening to music, I like to create it as well. I’ve learned to play the violin and took classes for five years. I love to recreate my favorite songs and play the violin in my free time. It’s a passion for me. Playing the violin makes me feel like I’m amongst some of the greatest artists out there. I’ve even played in orchestras and have won medals for my performances.

As you can see, music is what brings me happiness. It gives me a reason to keep going. Happiness can be achieved anywhere, anytime. It is possible to learn to be happy or relearn as the case may be for many of us these days. You only need to have a fair grasp of the components of what makes a happy life and then include them in yours. All you have to remember is,

“Happiness is not by chance, but by choice.”  – Jim Rohn

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“Create your own happiness” – Maha Barque