Martin Luther King, Jr.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
All of us struggle with selfishness. It’s simply the human condition to do so. The greatest men in the world (4 great men quoted above- social, scientific, spiritual, and political worldviews all represented) realize that the only way to become a great person- one that rises above the followers- is to conquer your own selfishness. Only then, when you stop chasing after what you think will make you happy, will you finally learn to BE happy.
In the video I had you guys watch almost a month ago about success… the speaker presented 8 keys to success, and I thought he really had only 3. This is the last one. The most elusive. The one that we’re most afraid of. The one that realizes that our success- true success- only comes through making the world better. We’re a pixel on the screen of life. And to make a beautiful world, we have to glow our own color, but in a way that cooperates with the rest of the world to make the whole picture work.
This is the great secret. And it’s wide open. Everyone can see it, repeat it, parrot it, even defend it… but so few of us do it. Most of us want to be wealthy, thinking that’s going to solve our problems… But the bottom line is that the wealthy are just as miserable as anyone else.
Here’s what makes the most happy and contented people in the world: They see themselves as a part of something bigger. They care about others. Not just their friends or family- but others… ALL others. Rich, poor, ugly, beautiful, famous, unknown, even friendly and unfriendly. The one thing that can bring you the greatest happiness is simply seeing yourself as a part of a bigger picture, finding your place in it, and realizing that you are both an important part, and also “just” a part only as important as every other part.
We are losing our selves when we lose any compassion or desire to help others. Gaining at other’s expense will ALWAYS cost you more than you get. This can’t be proven on paper with math.. but neither can anything in this life that matters… Love, beauty, happiness, meaning, purpose, contentment, compassion, faith. Nothing that matters is measurable or for sale. Yet we are often so busy striving for the tangible that we get distracted from our search for the meaningful.
This is the season that most of us find it easier to connect with the world around us. Something altruistic about the fall and early winter, isn’t there? Pay attention to the things that make you most happy. Truly content. They’re not things you can hold… they’re deep inside. They are the invisible, intangible, inextricable parts of our being that we truly long for. Pay attention to them. Keep your eyes on these things rather than the tangible distractions.
Money can be stolen. Cars can be wrecked. Relationships end. Health can fail. Beware of being so focused on the things that you use to distract you from your unhappiness.. because these things also distract you from your search to find the things that make you truly happy. It’s great to be unconscious when they’re operating on your heart. It’s horrible to be unconscious when your heart is longing to be filled with purpose, love, and meaning.
In the end… if we can look back at our lives and say “the world was better because I was in it. I contributed. I mattered.” And no matter how bad things seem… that one thing- having meaning… actually being a part of the goodness of life- will sustain you through the temporary hardships of this life. And even if you have no money, no car, no health insurance, no retirement, no boyfriend or girlfriend, no popularity, no fame, no house…
You will have peace.
Journal– Agree or disagree? What’s more important, posessions or purpose? Fame or friends and family? Are you living a life that lets you search for the important things or do you get distracted with the temporary tangibles?