Finding and Living in Your Own Universe

There is only one way to find true happiness in life. Different people call it differently, but the essence is same; find your own universe, and live it. Don’t live someone else’s life, live your life. It does sound so obvious, but many find it so hard to live that way.

This is one of my favorite stories in the book called, “How to Make Business Brain” by Junichi Imakita. Here is rough translation.

I was an invited instructor at Oxford University. I thought I had it all. I graduated from Tokyo University, built strong career at famous Japanese company. I had bright future plan, and went to foreign university alone. I thought, with my education and career, I could pick any job I wanted. Many objected my decisions, but I left Japan anyway.

Reality was tough. My term as invited professor was almost over, but I had hard time finding next position. I had sent over 20 applications to companies and institutions in the world, but all I got was “We regret to inform you….” letters. I wondered if my profession is not right for the era, and called my situation honorable unemployment. Still, I was in anguish over the situation.

There was this lady, Glace. She was window cleaner at my flat. Her job was simple, but she seemed to enjoy her life. She was always humming while cleaning. I had never actually talked with her, but I felt she was so full of life.

I had to wonder, what was the difference.. and reached one conclusion.

What is most important to life is not one’s education, nor social status, nor money. Whoever found “own universe” is the happy one.

I finally realized that no matter what you do, if you understand why you exist there, your reason to be there, anyone can enjoy life like Grace did.

I never met this Grace, but I believe everyone has seen own version of Grace. That’s someone who does not have anything you usually picture as “requisite for happiness”, but yet, seems like enjoying their life to the fullest. I actually met one during my business trip in Korea.

He used to be a doctor, and started this small business that manufacture simple products. My company imported some of his products as trial, and found out our customers just loved them. So we paid a visit to him. We wanted to convince him to work with us closer, possibly ask him to expand his business. First agenda was accomplished, but second one wasn’t.

He has no “sneakiness” I usually sense with other business people. No hidden agenda. He was happy to invent, manufacture and sell his own product. It was pure craftsmanship that attracted our customers. Quality is all he cares about. So, naturally he is reluctant to expand his business rapidly. He told us that he rather wanted to focus on delivering better product to his customers. He has all plans about future improvements on product, but not so much on business. He is having good time every day improving his products. He is, indeed, a Grace.

It was little rude for me to say this to him, who is much older than I am, but the word came out naturally, “you are living your dream!” He smiled back gently.

Sometimes I get this deep, almost depressing feeling of “What the hell am I doing with my life?”. Now I have a good reminder of what I should be doing. Look for your own universe. And, to quote Steve Jobs in that famous graduation speech, “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”