A trillion moments of joy

DO you recall your secondary school days, when you would work on past year exam papers because of the high likelihood of some questions repeating itself?

Do you recall counting how many questions you got right in an exam and fretting about a half mark that could get you into a higher grade?

Listening to many working people, it seems that life hasn't changed. Their KPIs seem to boil down to figures, how many hours one puts in, how much sales for the month, if someone did something in a certain way then copy that because that will be a sure-fire solution the next time the situation arises. It's almost as if we never left school.

When I ask some of my friends how's their job, many would respond, "It's just a job", while others might detail how terrible their job is.

It's the rare minority who love their work and their life, I notice. And it all seems to boil down to figures.

But let me ask two questions: Can success be quantified? Can happiness be quantified? The answer to the first question is usually "yes". Many people can quantify their own personal success. "By this time next year, I want a new car," or "In five years', I want to have made ten million," or "By the time I am 30, I want to have two children." One hears that pretty often.

But then the next question to ask is why do we want those things? Surely it is because we believe those things would bring happiness to us? It can't be need; no one needs $10 million or two children. These desires, surely, arise because one believes those things would bring one happiness?

But if these quantifiable objects are the measure of our happiness, when will it stop? If we have one car, will two cars make us happier? Or a bigger car? Or a more expensive car? If we have two children, will three make us happier? If we have one house, will two or three, or a bigger house, or a penthouse in New York bring us greater happiness? When will it end? Or is life meant to be a permanent journey of acquisition?

Don't misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with having goals. But we also need to understand why we have goals and what the underlying motive is for that goal.

We are taught from very young that we need to have goals, usually this is translated into "You have to score in exams". We sometimes learn along the way how to perform and our performance is always quantifiable. It's all about the numbers. Nowadays, popularity is even measured by numbers: the number of likes on your post; the number of followers on Instagram; the number of retweets.

Even skills nowadays are reduced to the "how to score" mentality. For example, my driving school taught me how to drive the exam routes, not how to drive. I remember distinctly all the things I needed to do, "Remember to pretend to adjust your seat", "Adjust your side mirrors even if it doesn't need adjusting", "When you go up this hill, change to third gear." All these "tips" helped me to pass my driving test with just one cross, but they didn't help me from banging the car in front of me the next day.

And this is the same in life. How can we keep on measuring things when the core of our life is not measurable? We can quantify things in business and in our career, but our happiness can't possibly be quantifiable. How do you measure a moment of joy? Or do we want to collect many many moments of happiness? Would it be an achievement if the legend on our headstone states: "This person had a trillion moments of joy in his life"?

Daniel freelances in writing and fitness training, and has a deep passion for health, fitness, sleep and travel. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com