A couple of days ago, as I scrolled though my Facebook feed, I came across a video, which unlike other videos I see on Facebook, I watched a second time. It contained short interview clips with rich and famous celebrities like Lady Gaga, Cameron Diaz, Eric Clapton and many other celebrities whose names I can’t readily remember. The same question was asked, which was, “Did fame and riches bring you joy and happiness?” They all answered in the negative. They then went on to state that in spite of all they had acquired, like having lived in the best houses, locations, being with the most beautiful women in the world, having the most exotic holidays in different parts of the world- having the best that life could offer, they still did not have the satisfaction and joy they thought acquiring riches and fame would bring to them. I remember Lady Gaga saying that a lot of times, she did not feel authentic in doing the things she did; that she sometimes felt like a fraud in the midst of her fans. This is because what she reflected on the outside did not match how she felt on the inside. Cameron Diaz then said something like this: if anyone thinks that his or her happiness could be found in fame, then he or she would never be truly happy.
I am sure that a lot of us can relate very much with these celebrities, especially yours truly. For example, many singles on attaining a certain age and level of maturity, will decide that it was time to be married and start a family. At the point of making that decision, that seemed like the only thing that would bring happiness and fulfillment to them. They would then go ahead and make plans towards achieving this goal. After this must have been achieved, this person feels the fulfillment he/she expected from achieving this goal and if I might add, momentary happiness that he/she believed would come upon achieving this goal. After some time, this person gets tired of staying within the fulfillment of this goal and starts to set his mind on the next and the next goal to be fulfilled. These could range from building a home for himself and his family, providing some level of security for them (insurance, health etc), buying a car, starting a business to add to what has been the current income of the family; and the list goes on and on depending on who it applies to.
We find that upon achieving a goal or in some cases graduating from the need to achieve a particular goal (i.e. when you used to expect to achieve something and then for some reason you find yourself at a level where that goal seemed too small or became irrelevant), we still keep on setting new goals. I think all of these makes us human and each level we find ourselves in depends on our level of maturity, which varies from person to person. Our actions are based on human instincts that we were born with, which include; the need to be better, improve and be different from who we previously were i.e. evolve.
According Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, as humans we have to attain a level of achievement before moving on to the next one- from physiological needs, to safety, to love/belonging, self-esteem and lastly to self- actualization. I would say that it is while in the process of attaining the next level of achievement on the hierarchy, that one feels the dissatisfaction with their current level of achievement. At this point, one feels restless, tired or lethargic, which might bring about unhappiness, fear of the unknown and in some cases depression, especially when action is not taken to move on to the next level. Some people become stuck and have no clue about how to move on to the next stage, some begin to strategise, make enquiries, and ask questions, do research into the next level, pray, as well as do all that can be done not to remain stuck, in order to achieve that next stage; whilst some others who already have a plan, simply wait for things to fall into place.
At every stage of life that we find ourselves, we should ask if moving to the next stage is worth sacrificing our happiness for and losing track of who we truly are. When we know who we truly are, we will be able to overcome the stress, discontent and unhappiness that might result pre or during the time of our efforts to move on to the next level. We therefore have to look on the inside of us for true happiness and not outward.
We should learn to bask in the fulfillment and joy of every stage of life that we find ourselves in and be content with and find happiness right where we are. As we grow through each stage of life, maintaining the level of contentment and happiness we have had through the journey would make us find real joy when we finally get to the peak of self-actualization.