(Material for this essay comes from the following books: “The Gift of Giving” by Michael Lynberg and “Love” and “Personhood” by Dr. Leo F. Buscaglia)
In our journey through life, there will be struggles and heartaches. But to help us ease these pains, there are beliefs and values that make life more enjoyable, even rewarding.
Here are a few things that I believe.
I believe that….the pursuit of happiness is a major cause of unhappiness. To find happiness, we must find a noble cause, a purpose, alleviate someone else’s suffering. Something beyond ourselves. Happiness is the by product.
I believe that….money does not buy happiness. There are miserable millionaires. The happiest find purpose, loving others.
I believe that….we will not be happy, never be satisfied unless we step out of our “comfort zone”, pursue our calling, our life’s mission, utilize our talents and not follow the crowd.
I believe that……religions teach us to follow our path that is uniquely our own. The most famous is the parable of the talents from the Christian Bible. (Matt 25: 14 – 30) Simply put: for everyone who produces with what he has, more will be given; for everyone who does not, he will be deprived of what he has.
I believe that ….if a person ignores his higher calling or his need to express his unique talent, he will never find fulfillment and be at peace. Maslow wrote: “If you deliberately plan to be less than you are capable of being then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.”
And Rollo May wrote: “If any organism fails to fulfill its potentialities, it becomes sick. If man does not fulfill his potential as a person, he becomes to that extent constricted and ill.”
True happiness, according to Helen Keller “is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
We must be a non conformist in a conformist world. Stand up and taking the initiative. Wrote Shakespeare: “This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as night the day. Thou canst not be false to any man.”
And hiding our talents or not using them is a sin against God/nature. We wouldn’t walk away from someone who is hurting. We do the same when we don’t exercise our talents. They are meant to help humanity. What good is a doctor with a medical degree who doesn’t practice his craft?
And I believe that……we have no choice but to keep on trying. Our alternative lies in frustration and anguish.
I believe that….we often find our path by trial and error. How does one find out what direction we each should be going in? “How can we learn to know ourselves” asked Goethe: “Never by reflection but by action.”
I believe that…..in the pursuit of our dreams, there will be those who try to discourage us. They will tell us to make our goals realistic. But we end up selling ourselves short.
I believe that….in order to be ourselves, in pursuing our dreams, each one of us will be misunderstood.
I believe that….. those who discourage us may be so insecure in themselves. They may even find us threatening. In the words of Albert Einstein: “Brilliant minds face violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
I believe….in a piece of wisdom I read years ago: “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you’ll hit some stars.”
I believe that….there is nothing shameful in aiming high and failing. The shame is when one never tries. Equally bad is not getting up after failing. More confidence is mustered by trying and failing than not trying at all.
I believe that….even if we become successful, our problems will not seize. These problems may stop only to open the door to more challenging ones. In the words of Oscar Wilde: “There are only 2 tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants and the other is getting it.”
I believe that……the nature of faith is such that we don’t know if our dreams and ideas will come true. There is a mystery to life. There is pain and frustration when things don’t work out. But, if we could predict what would succeed, that mystery would leave us. There would be no joy. Life would be so predictable. I don’t think any one of us could live with that.
I believe that……life is a struggle.
I believe…in God. But if we are to make a better world, those that believe have to step up. We are God’s hands and feet.
I believe that…..prayer doesn’t change God. Prayer changes us.
I believe that…..we worship God by being of service, carrying for the vulnerable, fighting injustices, etc.
I believe that……what we sow, we reap. But there is also free will.
I believe that……we are no different than some criminals. Neglect and apathy are weapons. We hurt people by doing nothing. The only difference, if there is a difference, is the severity.
I believe that……all people are good. We have to find a way to the person’s heart. Wrote clergyman Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887): “you never know until you try to reach them how accessible men are but you must approach each man by the right door.”
I believe that…..we are all weak. Few lives are to be admired. Wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
I believe that…..we cannot save the world. But we can help, at least, one person. Emily Dickinson’s poem sums it up:
“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”
I believe that……there is enough wealth in the world to end all poverty. And the only thing missing is the will.
I believe that…..despite social media and the internet, we are lonelier than ever. We have to learn to accept and love ourselves first before we can love another person.
I believe that……. the greatest feeling is love. It is so appreciated because it is so rare.
And, I believe…… in the words of Dr. Leo F. Buscaglia: “man has no choice but to love. For when he does not, his alternatives lie in loneliness, pain and frustration.”