QUOTE: This guy, discouraging as he’d been, hadn’t actually hit on my real worry about my project: Was it supremely self-centered to spend so much effort on my own happiness? I gave this question a lot of thought. In the end, I sided with the ancient philosophers and modern scientists who argue that working to be happier is a worthy goal. According to Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”Epicurus wrote, “We must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed toward attaining it.”Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens. I wanted to be one of those people. I knew it was certainly easier for me to be good when I was happy. I was more patient, more forgiving, more energetic, more lighthearted, and more generous. Working on my happiness wouldn’t just make me happier, it would boost the happiness of the people around me. And—though I didn’t recognize this immediately—I started my happiness project because I wanted to prepare. I was a very fortunate person, but the wheel would turn. One dark night, my phone was going to ring, and I already had a notion about one particular phone call that might come. One of my goals for the happiness project was to prepare for adversity—to develop the self-discipline and the mental habits to deal with a bad thing when it happened. The time to start exercising, stop nagging, and organize our digital photos was when everything was going smoothly. I didn’t want to wait for a crisis to remake my life.
What gets your attention?
What human needs or problems relate to the quote?
What is it like to have that problem?
What other resources connect to this idea?
What is the solution suggested in the quote, if there is one?
What would a camera see if the solution was implemented in my life, in my family’s life, or in my church or community?
What are the steps that I would take on Monday to implement that solution?
What does this say to my context as a …
… follower of Jesus?
… to a church?
… to a community – my neighbors?
The quote is from The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin, located at page
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