Teniola was a Director in the Presidency

Success wears many hats and can either be a propeller of dreams or a road to destruction, argues Aisha Shuaibu

Materialism and the desire to show off possessions have become common practices in today’s society. A growing effect of social media among young people is the need to have beyond what they already own and show it off in the process. This causes people to fall into emotional instabilities, turbulent relationships, indulge in criminal behaviour, and other desperate attempts to live up to the hype. Youths succumb to the pressures of not being at the same level as those who appear to have more material wealth and comfortable lives. The truth is that the need for more hardly ever leads to contentment, but it takes someone who has it all to know that. For ambitious people, success can be relative. Career success is tailored towards the achievement on a goal-to-goal basis, while monetary success is usually a means to measure performance. Success wears many hats and can either be a propeller of dreams or a road to destruction. Along the journey of life, it is important to realise that the most priceless of things are rarely tangible but the things money can’t buy.

To be truly content is to define what success means to us and to recognise when we have attained it. Social media platforms do not discriminate on the social class of their users as most platforms are free and easily accessible, allowing users to look into the lives of anyone who cares to share. If for instance, someone lived in a broken household but frequently saw content that showed happy family vacations and loving moments, this would cause the person a lot of distress. The same applies to people living in tough conditions, in countries at war, those struggling with poor health, or living in idleness with no decent work. Looking into a life you want but isn’t yours can easily breed the obsession to force those possessions and lead people into developing unhealthy coping methods to compensate for an unhappy life. The reality is that the concept of having it all is unreal and unattainable, and those who make it a priority to remain materialistic end up permanently insatiable. Greed is a disastrous quality. A greedy individual cannot relate to the concept of contentment, as their perspective has already been compromised by their insistence to have more than they need. We must ask ourselves about what would truly matter at the end of our lives, would it be about what we did or what we had? They say people never remember who you were but they always remember how you made them feel. To get the best out of ourselves and each other, we must live purposefully with the mindset that we are not here to win or lose alone but to carry each other along and break bread along the way. 

Human beings have the most basic life needs; food, shelter, clothing, and good health. Everything outside of these needs is an added comfort that in the absence of, we will still be alive but just slightly less comfortable. People living in simple conditions or low-income earning communities tend to appear happier than those in big cities with jobs and the stress of a fast life. Minimalistic living can feel light in the head and heart because you have chosen contentment by having exactly what you need and nothing more. The Japanese concept of Ikigai has enveloped the secret to longevity and happiness into practical habits for our daily lives; staying active, taking it slow, filling your stomach, having good people around, getting in shape, smiling, connecting with nature, giving thanks and living in the moment. When we shift perspective from what we understand success to be, to becoming more mindful about what we expose ourselves to daily, we get closer to finding our path to contentment. Happiness as an end goal lies in the things we hardly notice until they are taken from us like our family, friends, a comfortable bed, clean clothes, warm food, clean air, rainfall, an orderly life, discipline, loyalty, and love.

Another practical habit to reconnect with the things that truly matter is to take a social media break every once in a while to reduce exposure to the pressure it comes with. Smartphone users have grown accustomed to checking social media applications on impulse, without thinking about it. Addiction to social media is real and developing the habit of self-regulation will help its users avoid overindulgence and negative triggers. Challenging ourselves to place limits on how much we connect online will encourage us to re-align with reality, connect with each other’s physical presence, and rid ourselves of the incessant habit to overshare, and learn to keep our private lives private.

 Shuaibu is a member of THISDAY Editorial Board

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