Dear Hope Nation,
Imagine a world where you are the smartest, most attractive, funniest, most insightful person in history. Sages come to you for advice, children are named after you and all respect your opinion in all things. Because of your greatness, all your desires are immediately fulfilled. If you want a snack of grapes washed in the tears of orphans, parents are killed in front of little boys and girls so your wish will become reality. You know all things before they happen and can change not just the future but the past. In short, you are only slightly below the gods. Sounds like quite a life, doesn’t it?
Now think about your life as it is. Your teeth get dirty and sometimes develop cavities or fall out altogether. Your job, if you have one, provides enough to survive, but doesn’t make you rich. Some people love and respect you, but the vast majority of humans don’t know you exist. In short, you have a quiet, normal life.
Think long and hard about the alternatives. If you had the choice, which life would you choose? Why?
Sure of your choice? Absolutely?
Although I’ve been wrong about plenty of things, I’ll bet you chose your own quiet, normal life. I know I would. I enjoy working for things I don’t have, love to find out what’s over the next hill and discovering people and their quirks through experience rather than mystical insight. Do let me know your thoughts and process.
During the previous round of daily letters, many readers enjoyed occasional collections of quotes. Others found them a waste of time. For the former group, here are some thoughts on happiness. For the latter, go back and ponder the above thought experiment.
“The true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”– William Morris
“People are unhappy when they get something too easily. You have to sweat – that’s the only moral they know.”– Dany Laferrière
“There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.”– Charlotte Bronte
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.”– Chinese Proverb
“The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.”– Chuck Palahniuk
“We can’t control the world. We can only (barely) control our own reactions to it. Happiness is largely a choice, not a right or entitlement.”– David C. Hill
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”– Denis Waitley
“If only we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.”– Edith Wharton
“The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.”– Epictetus
“The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”– Eric Hoffer
“I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.”– Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though it were his own.”– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
You matter. I matter. We matter.