“If a man is unhappy, this must be his own fault; for God made all men to be happy.”—EPICTETUS.
Life is a great gift, and as we reach years of discretion, we most of us naturally ask ourselves what should be the main object of our existence. Even those who do not accept “the greatest good of the greatest number” as an absolute rule, will yet admit that we should all endeavor to contribute as far as we may to the happiness of our fellow-creatures. There are many, however, who seem to doubt whether it is right that we should try to be happy ourselves. Our own happiness ought not, of course, to be our main object, nor indeed will it ever be secured if selfishly sought. We may have many pleasures in life, but must not let them have rule over us, or they will soon hand us over to sorrow; and “into what dangerous and miserable servitude doth he fall who suffereth pleasures and sorrows (two unfaithful and cruel commanders) to possess him successively?”.
I cannot, however, but think that the world would be better and brighter if our teachers would dwell on the Duty of Happiness as well as on the Happiness of Duty, for we ought to be as cheerful as we can, if only because to be happy ourselves, is a most effectual contribution to the happiness of others.
Every one must have felt that a cheerful friend is like a sunny day, which sheds its brightness on all around; and most of us can, as we choose, make of this world either a palace or a prison.
There is no doubt some selfish satisfaction in yielding to melancholy, and fancying that we are victims of fate; in brooding over grievances, especially if more or less imaginary. To be bright and cheerful often requires an effort; there is a certain art in keeping ourselves happy; and in this respect, as in others, we require to watch over and manage ourselves, almost as if we were somebody else.
Life is not to live merely, but to live well. There are some “who live without any design at all, and only pass in the world like straws on a river: they do not go; they are carried,” but as Homer makes Ulysses say, “How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rest unburnished; not to shine in use—as though to breathe were life!”
Goethe tells us that at thirty he resolved “to work out life no longer by halves, but in all its beauty and totality.”
“Im Ganzen, Guten, Schönen Resolut zu leben.”
Life indeed must be measured by thought and action, not by time. It certainly may be, and ought to be, bright, interesting, and happy; and, according to the Italian proverb, “if all cannot live on the Piazza, every one may feel the sun.”
If we do our best; if we do not magnify trifling troubles; if we look resolutely, I do not say at the bright side of things, but at things as they really are; if we avail ourselves of the manifold blessings which surround us; we cannot but feel that life is indeed a glorious inheritance.
Few of us, however, realize the wonderful privilege of living, or the blessings we inherit; the glories and beauties of the Universe, which is our own if we choose to have it so; the extent to which we can make ourselves what we wish to be; or the power we possess of securing peace, of triumphing over pain and sorrow.
Be happy and remember that “A man is his own star; Our acts our angels are For good or ill,”
Here more quotes of happiness
“All places that the eye of Heaven visits Are to the wise man ports and happy havens.” SHAKESPEARE.
“In palaces are hearts that ask, In discontent and pride, Why life is such a dreary task, And all good things denied. And hearts in poorest huts admire How love has in their aid (Love that not ever seems to tire) Such rich provision made.” TRENCH.
“Grief should be Like joy, majestic, equable, sedate, Confirming, cleansing, raising, making free: Strong to consume small troubles; to commend Great thoughts, grave thoughts, thoughts lasting to the end.” Ibid