Aristotle called happiness that which we seek as an end in itself and for no other reason. It was among his most important insights...yet there’s at least one that was even more important:
It’s the consequence of a life well lived, with full attention to the cultivation and exercise of the virtues, and the proper application of one’s gifts.
Everything we seek explicitly, we seek for some utilitarian reason. Many of the things men seek are thought to be “routes to happiness.” Yet there are no such routes, other than a life well lived.
A life well lived will elicit many reactions from others, all the way from fervent adulation to corrosive envy. Yet those things are not routes to happiness but mere incidental consequences of a life well lived. You cannot become happy by feasting on the emotions of others.
Note the powerful correlation between the determination to live right and the virtue of gratitude. Life itself is a gift. Moreover, it’s the indispensable gift. You can’t live right if you don’t live, right?
(Forgive me for that last, Gentle Reader. It was too good to pass up.)
Among those who wallow in their unhappiness and complain most bitterly of it, we can find many who have more than they could ever be properly grateful for. Hearken to the late, great David Ackles as he tells us of a typical pair:
It is possible to live right and to be grateful for the gift of life regardless of one’s placement in space, time, and circumstance. Ponder the Jenkinses in Ackles’ composition, and ask yourself: If I were to replace one of them, could I do it better than they did? How?
Just a quick thought for your Wednesday. And may God bless and keep you all.