10 June, 2010

“The best things in life are free”, do u agree?

In this overly materialistic society we are unfortunate enough to be living in today, the word 'free' is constantly and almost spontaneously associated with things we don't have to fork out hard cash for. Many remain ignorant, however, of the fact that attaining something without any toil, personal sacrifice and hard work can also be categorized under this word 'free'. And this is precisely why I wholeheartedly disagree with the statement that the best things in life are free". They are not. Nothing in this world can be achieved without at least a certain amount of sweat and tears being shed in the process.

Happiness, health and success. These are but several examples among the many things I believe to be the best in life. And can they be considered free? Do we just screw our eyes shut, hold out our hands, make a wish and then wait expectantly for these things to drop right into our outstretched palms? Certainly not! The very idea is ridiculous. They are undoubtedly attainable, "best things in life", but not without the price of determination and true effort being paid first - by ourselves.

Happiness goes hand in hand with contentment, and it can be viewed through aspects such as the family, one's working environment and our social circles. If this wonderful element were truly free, we wouldn't be swamped with the multitude of broken families, resentful and discontented workers as well as severed or strained friendships that we are today. Everyone would be living in the most idyllic of havens ... an atmosphere filled with joy, happiness and satisfaction! But is that a reality? No. And this is because the achievements ofreal happiness requires much self-sacrifice. In the family, it demands that a husband and wife always put each other and their children first, before their own selves. It requires that they love each other unconditionally, and are constantly able to forgive and to forget. It also insists that each family member put into practice the elements of patience, forbearance and responsibility. The same goes for the attainment of happiness in one's workplace, and for the preservation of the precious, nourishing friendships that are so dear to our hearts. Indeed, happiness is a tough and exacting master, who does not give without asking something of us in return.

And what about our health? Are we take it for granted that good health and a strong body will always be ours to have? That, too, is highly improbable. If we wish to enjoy a body as free of pain and illnesses as is possible, we have to be prepared to pay a price for it - the price if discipline. Eating the right food, controlling one's diet and exercising regularly are the health rules that come into the picture, naturally. But are they so easy to achieve? I don't think so. It will require a good deal of effort on our part to abstain from certain foods we crave for, to work out a regular exercise routine and to stick to our determination for the best of a healthy body. Ask any ex-smoker, drug addict or alcoholic, and they will be able to extemporize much further, I am sure, on the high cost they paid to regain at least part of their health ... a price which must have been gruellingto the point of tears for some. No, good health isn't just ours for the asking. There is a whole lot of effort and sacrifice involved as well.

Moving on to success - and this is certainly something all of us yearn for - this 'best thing in life' is without the shadow of a doubt one of the hardest things to attain if one is not willing to toil for it. Consider the many prominently successful figures we know of in the world today. How many of them got where they are now by chance? By luck? Did the gods of fortune just happen to smile upon them and send showers of success and fruitful achievements tumbling into their laps? These people worked to be able to hold the key to success in their hands. They had grit, determination and courage. They knew the road to success would be one full of twists, turns, prickly thorns and thistles ... in short, that it would not be an easy road to travel, but they were willing to pay what was demanded of them. And that is what placed them in the enviable positions they are in today. For students, success in studies will only come through plenty of hard work. For the career-minded people, success can only be ensured through self-motivation, creativity, competence and a driving, innovative spirit. And just how did the world-famous sportsmen and women arrive where they are today? Through talent, yes, but also through a lot of perseverance, long hours of training and self-sacrifice.

To sum it all up, if the best things in life were free, this world would be a perfect Eden. We wouldn't need to have any of the qualities mentioned above, such as discipline, determination, a loving, forgiving spirit and patience, if we could enjoy our innermost yearnings for free. And this is perhaps a blessing in disguise for us. The very fact that these things are not free is also a fact which has made many men and women the role-models they are for us, for they have instilled in their souls such qualities as are needed, to enjoy these 'best things in life'. These are the people we can truly look up to and admire with all our hearts, for they got their desires through effort, and not as a free gift.

The best things in life are undoubtedly attainable. Will we pay the price required for their achievement? That, I believe, is our own choice, and entirely up to us.

Vocabulary

forbearance: patience , forgiveness 忍耐

nourishing : what is needed in order to live, grow and stay healthy 滋养

gruelling : very hard and tiring, demanding great effort and determination 艰难的

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