When asked, “What do you want out of life?” many people respond with the well-known platitude, “I just want to be happy!” This is an admirable goal., I grant you. The problem here is that the vast majority of people are, seemingly, unhappy. The amount of drugs and alcohol that we consume is off the scale. (1)
Forget teaching: becoming a businessman selling vice and immorality is far more lucrative and with many more eager attendants. But, putting facetiousness aside, why are we so unhappy? It doesn’t make sense. We live in the most physically affluent society in recorded human history. That said, we were much happier before we had mass communication and access to virtually infinite information. (2) It would thus appear that happiness is not based on affluence and speed. It is predicated on something much deeper, more profound.
That I believe to be prosperity. We confuse happiness, which is a momentary goal, with the true meaning of life — to be prosperous and fulfilled. It is the great conundrum in the Age of the Internet because material well-being and the desire for stardom wash over us. If I am 18, what do I see but a material struggle to get atop the physical world? Countless rock and roll stars, movie celebrities, and entrepreneurs show us what it is like to “make it.” And anyone with more the $100 dollars in their pocket knows what it can do. But, sterling (3) does not hold the key to prosperity any more than real or enforced poverty (4) provides access to this precious portal.
So what is the secret to prosperity? This is where it becomes extremely interesting because that key, the clé to my personal Nirvana if you will, is only, and I emphasize only, held by me. Only the self can make me prosperous.
Recently, a well-known businessman took his life in a most dramatic fashion. Now think to yourself — if you want to exit reality, life being a private experience, wouldn’t you want your departure to be equally confidential? But no, he did it in a most conspicuous manner, in his office, drawing forth the necessary opprobrium and hand-wrenching associated with these public events. This was not the romantic Viking sailing off to Valhalla in his fiery longboat, it was a very public display of rejection of everything he had worked for. He was not mad. That is the easy excuse. The truth is that at the end of his life, he didn’t feel prosperous and fulfilled. Quite obviously, he wasn’t happy. The great philosopher and theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, (5) leaves us with a thought: Life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced.
A closing thought: So what is the lesson here? Who is your teacher? Open your notebook, and learn to identify where prosperity lies for you and go after it. Do you want to be truly happy? You can, for it lies within, not without..
To sum up: This week, we spoke about happiness and what it means to each of us.
To be noted: From Aristotle (6) — A friend to all is a friend to none.
Just for fun:
This week, on your joy-filled walk, please ponder what brings you a sense of prosperity.
Every day look for something magical and beautiful.
Don’t be a wage slave – critical thinking is great!
Quote: See prosperity in your life — it exists for all thoughtful people.