March 16, 2009

How much is enough?


How much do you need? Ever asked yourself how much is enough? The chinese words in the above carricature literally means "the less things you have, the less desire you have". I think I can relate to these words very well.

When I resigned from a permanent job sometime ago and decided to take a long break, many people said that I have made enough already and probably have a big pile stashed away somewhere so that I do not have to work for the rest of my life. They said: "Wah, so young can "tui yau" (retire) already". I just turned 47 and a good friend actually presented me with two sticks on my recent birthday and told me that I can "tar pai keok, ng sai lou" (whack my legs ... one stick for the left leg, one for the right leg and stop working) for the rest of my life. Of course it was meant to be a joke.

Well, have I made enough? YES, I can afford what I NEED to live life decently. I have no problem getting all my "need to haves" from Carrefour, Giant, Tesco and occassionally Jusco or Parkson. But I cannot afford the "nice to haves" from Pavillion, KLCC and Starhill.

Can I stop working for the rest of my life? NO, I cannot and I do not want to stop working, at least not yet. BUT I would like take it a lot easier and work at my own pace now. Even though I do not expect to earn as much as I did, what I really want is to have a lot more time. The real "nice to have" for me is the quality time for my family, my friends and myself.

There is a good story that someone told me long ago. In short, it goes something like this:

There was an old man who lived near a river. And the river is full of fishes but everyday the old man only goes out for a while in the morning to catch a few fishes, just enough for his family.

One day a young man came by the old man's house and asked the old man why he did not catch more fishes from the river. The young man told the old man that since the river is full of fishes, he could start a big business. He could catch more fishes and sells them for a profit. With the profit, he could buy more boats and hire more people to catch even more fishes and sell them for a bigger profit.

The old man then ask the young man why should he do that. The young man says that with all the money he does not have to work anymore and then he can spend more time with his family. The old man then tells the young man that it is exactly what he is doing right now. He just spend a little bit of time to catch a few fishes so that he has more time with his family.

Of course the "need to haves" and "nice to haves" are different for every other people. So the question of "How much is enough?" really depends on each individual. The sad thing is that many people do not know how much is actually enough for them. Even sadder is that they think that with more to show off materialistically, the happier they will be. And engrossed in the mad rush to chase after materialistic gains, many do not realise that they ignored their own well being, their family and their friends in the process. I hear many people say "You know, I spent so much time and worked so hard to make a lot of money and buy the best things for all so that I can make everyone happy". Sounds familiar?

So what is the meaning of happinesss? I do not know about other people's definition of happiness. Mine is just very simple. I am happy to cook for my familly. I am happy that I found a nice book for just RM7.90 at a bargain store. I am happy to have time to read the book. I am happy to be able to fix the broken back door in my house. I am happy to go trekking and enjoy the nature. I am happy that I just spent RM10 a week on petrol on my motorbike. I am happy that I see my friends more often. I am happy that I wake up before the alarm rings. I am happy to pluck the coconuts I planted in front of my house. I am happy that I managed to book cheap tickets from a budget airline. I am happy that I have time to learn music at 47 years old. I am happy that I have time to write my blog.

You see, simple things make me very happy. Earlier when I said that I can relate to the words in the above carricature very well, it is very true. I do not want a lot of things so I have less desires. But you know what? I am a lot happier this way.

So how much is enough for you? And are you happy?



KLPenguin3 said...

Be happy with your love ones and frens and live within your means that is enough..

Love the Nature

The Baking Factory said...

I should be happy with what i have now. Thanks Shiek!