Like many in their 20s, I too have experienced the quarter-life crisis after completing my Chartered Accountancy course. In my 7th grade, I was a hopeless student, who couldn’t even write his own name in his native tongue. My mind wavered and lacked concentration, this in an era where words such as smartphone and social media did not exist. After realizing that I neither excelled academically nor in sports (the two attributes every boy in his puberty believed were needed to win the hearts of the opposite sex), I decided to concentrate on academics.
I started with the basics of how to study and made consistent improvements over time. I went from barely passing to achieving 50%, and finally, I joined the most privileged students, ranking among the top five during my 9th grade. As expected, during this time, I befriended many of my classmates and gained a lot of attention in school, thereby satisfying my teenage ego.
Right from childhood, I had never seen my father smiling, happy, or proud of me. But when I achieved 95.4% and secured the 4th rank in my 10th board exams, the happiness and pride on my father’s face knew no bounds. In my 12th board exams, I secured 97.83%, scoring a perfect 100% in all four core papers, and bagging 1st rank. My father was ecstatic. I decided to pursue the Chartered Accountancy course, with a desire to make him proud of me once again. I also cleared all my CA exams in the first attempt, becoming a CA at the age of 21. But the happiness and sense of pride I felt then was not at the level of my 10th board exam results.
Perhaps happiness or achievement after a period of struggle brings us more joy and satisfaction than continuous achievements. Up until I cleared the CA exam, I was narrowly focused on achieving it. Once I did, I became clueless about what to do with my life, possibly due to a quarter-life crisis.
Now all of 21, I found myself stuck with the question: “What is life? Why are we always chasing or complaining about something and more?”
I had never read a non-fiction book till then and had no interest in reading one. However, I decided to give it a try to find answers to the questions that plagued me. After nearly two and a half years of reading (and re-reading) many books, watching (and re-watching) numerous movies, and engaging in intense discussions with various people, I finally grasped the essence of the answers to these questions.
As Naval Ravikant aptly puts it,
“The three big ones in life are wealth, health, and happiness.
We pursue them in that order, but their importance is reverse.”
The Pursuit of Happiness
Many people believe that happiness is only attainable through wealth or achievements. However, it does not have to be an expensive or challenging endeavour. A simple gesture, like waving at a child during your morning commute to the office, can evoke genuine happiness that transcends monetary value. Speaking of happiness, I would like to share an experience from my articleship days that imparted a valuable life lesson.
During my first audit at a prominent manufacturing company, we took our lunch in the company canteen. My senior, in his 3rd year of articleship, genuinely expressed gratitude to the lady serving our food, accompanied by a warm smile and a heartfelt “Thank You”. This small act of kindness had a profound impact on the serving staff. They were used to having employees ignore them or avert their gaze while being served food.
My senior’s simple gesture brought genuine happiness to the serving staff, and their faces lit up for the rest of the day. Over time, they greeted our audit team with warm smiles each day. As the week passed by, the company employees began to notice this change. They too began to acknowledge the serving staff, making eye contact, and expressing their appreciation. This small change fostered a more positive and joyful atmosphere, demonstrating that happiness can be found in the simplest acts of kindness.
No extensive explanations are necessary on this subject, given that we live in times where approximately 95% of educated individuals knowingly consume unhealthy foods and engage in detrimental health habits including sedentary lifestyles, insufficient physical activity, skipping breakfast, frequent snacking, gorging on packaged foods, indulging in unhealthy evening snacks, late-night dinners, late-night screen time, inadequate sleep, among others.
We are well aware of the harmful effects of these practices on our bodies, yet we persist without much consideration. The key is to commence by adopting healthier eating habits, establishing and adhering to a regular sleep schedule, limiting excessive screen time, and engaging in casual and meaningful conversations with friends and family.
Wealth: A Different Perspective
Given that a significant portion of our daily efforts is directed towards the pursuit of wealth, there’s little need for an elaborate explanation. My suggestion is to assign equal importance to each aspect of life, but in reverse order: prioritize happiness, health, and wealth.
To conclude, I’d like to leave you with a favourite quote from Naval Ravikant:
“Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re just a monkey with a plan.”
About the Author – CA Aswin
CA Aswin is a Chartered Accountant who serves as the Assistant General Manager in a reputed garment manufacturing company. In his role, he oversees accounting, financial reporting, tax and secretarial compliance, internal audit, and systems audit. When he’s not immersed in the financial world, he finds solace in reading both fiction and non-fiction books and indulging in the world of cinema. He’s also an avid enthusiast of MS Excel, holding a Specialist Certification from Microsoft for his expertise. Currently, his passion lies in researching on various facets of physical and mental health, and he actively experiments with these insights in his own life.
He can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Quest for the Meaning of Life
BE WHERE YOU ARE
Disconnected in a Connected World
Choices and chances are pre-connected dots!