I hate going to parties these days because of the newly rich who flaunt showy costumes, expensive jewellry, and carry themselves with nauseating pomposity, vanity, and swagger.

On the rare occasions I do attend one, I feel like an outcast. Having little patience for sweet talk, I would rather be myself and even run the risk of being branded

unsociable.

When I was a kid, my parents took me to many parties. The first thing that captivated my attention was always the fancy clothes of other children. I demanded similar clothes from my parents. I felt humiliated by my cheaper and unfashionable dresses. I coveted a sleek Toyota Corolla for my family, and hungered for branded sportswear.

Not now. I’ve begun to see through the people who rely on external attractiveness to make them feel wanted. I can see the sadness hidden behind those rose-tinted lips, the uneasiness behind the double-breasted coat.

As a kid, I felt a vague unease whenever I came across the children of well-off families. Only more money could fill that void, I thought. But happily, I was wrong. As I grew up, I began to realise that personal fulfilment was more important than anything money could buy. The void I discerned during my childhood, I soon started discerning among the rich adults.

I remember our Nepali school teacher teaching us the value of self-worth, which can only be realised through self-discovery; that there was no correlation between money and a man’s well-being. Money is necessary, but not the be-all and end-all. Back then, we could only mock him. We wondered how he could justify the thesis that the rich were an unhappy lot. My peers from well-to-do families got everything they wanted in an instant, while others could only pine for such a luxury.

But years later, his words come haunting back. Now I’m convinced that it is a much bigger challenge to be a good person than a rich one. The trick is to become rich at heart, though poor in possessions; not the other way round. So let’s not kill our happiness by joining the rat race to become richer and richer — at the cost of our inner joy.

As the saying goes: Happy is the man who’s joyous at heart, content the man whose mind’s at peace.