The achievements of my teenage years belong to my teenage years. The achievements of my twenties belong to my twenties. The achievements of yesterday belong to yesterday and hold no value today. However big of a fuss I make about their grandiosity, these memories of the past fail to invoke the same satisfaction I felt at the time.
The leading role I took in an elementary school festival when I was ten years old might have been fascinating back then, but that doesn’t mean I have to feel the same level of awe when I look back on it now. The medals I won and the mountains I climbed might have been spectacular to the twenty-year-old me, but what these can give me today amounts to the mere possibility of taking a little pride in them.
On the other hand, there are memories that, when I look back at them, give me the same amount of happiness and intensity as the moment when they happened. There is the memory of sharing my lunch with a needy boy at my elementary school and chatting with a self-conscious and bullied pupil at high school, just to ease his pain and make him feel welcomed and cared for. I remember helping an elderly, disabled, homeless person to relieve himself while everybody else ridiculed him for his full bladder. There was the time I soothed a man who was having an epileptic fit on the street while other people just stared in panic. I remember making a student of mine cling on to life, even though his doctors had long given him up for dead. I remember sharing my hard-earned knowledge and experience generously with people, watching them perfect their lives faster and easier than I did. Whenever I achieved something for myself, the pleasure only lasted for that day. Whenever I gave something of mine to someone else or made something to make someone happy, the pleasure proved to be timeless.
Success and achievement is mortal and fleeting, destined to be forgotten. What is immortal and persistent, however, is goodness, affection, and sharing. It’s not the memories of achievement that we need to treasure in order to feel happy, really happy that is. Those moments not only fail to sustain their value and pleasure, they can also upset us, for they belong to the past. If we want to be happy for real, we should treasure the moments of affection and fearlessness, moments in which we’ve eased people’s pain and filled their hearts with light. The more we treasure such moments, the happier we can be as we gain a sense of power, glory, and immortality.