“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am interested in what type of responses I may get from that quote. Many may say “life is the pursuit of happiness”, or “I work this hard to be happy”, or “The meaning of life is to find happiness”… and so on. However, happiness is fleeting.
Let me expound a bit. I large slice of cream cheese cake makes me happy, so does a large plate of buffalo chicken wings, but it’s temporary. And frankly the side effects may not be so pleasant if over indulging. I am very happy when I my children, laughing & playing. However, that is fleeting, especially when I have to return them back to their mother. My Harley Davidson makes me happy, but a newer Road King in addition to it may make me happier. However, when it is in the garage or during winter months, I am unhappy about that. I am happy I am alive & have healthy children.
However, that is more on the thankful scale of happiness. The point is that we can chase after happiness in a form of idolization to realize it is not what truly provides us peace & contentment. I believe true fulfillment or contentment in life is better discovered by being useful, honorable, compassionate like Ralph Waldo Emerson eludes in his quote above. To strive to make a positive impact in the lives of others, to live a life that is honorable, lived to it’s fullest in the priceless gift that it is.
Money, promotions, material things will come & go, or rot or rust, but the contributions you made for the better, or the positive impacts that you make in the lives of others, may last for generations and possibly change a community or even potentially the world. I have a saying, The good life isn’t about how many toys you have or money you make, it’s how many lives you touch and good you create. So rather than constantly chasing after happiness, discover your mission, purpose, “Ikigai” and apply it to be epically useful, impactful, and make a positive difference. You may realize that is much more than happiness.