Happiness is not about having; rather enjoying

The following-edited essay, “The Royal Road to Happiness,” by editor William George Jordan gives us insights into the true values of life.

“‘During my whole life I have not had 24 hours of happiness.’ So said Prince Bismarck, one of the greatest leaders of the 19th century. Eighty-three years of wealth, fame, honors, power, influence, prosperity and triumph, – years when he held an empire in his fingers – but not one day of happiness!

“Happiness is the greatest paradox in nature. It can grow in any soil, live under any conditions. It defies environment and comes from within; it is the revelation of the depths of the inner life as light and heat proclaim the sun from which they radiate. Happiness consists not of having, but of being, not of possessing, but of enjoying. It is the warm glow of a heart at peace with itself.

“A martyr at the stake may have happiness that a king on his throne might envy. Everyone is the creator of their own happiness; it is the aroma of a life lived in harmony with high ideals. For what people have, they may be dependent on others; what they are rests with them alone. What a person obtains in life is but acquisition; what one attains is growth.

“Happiness is the soul’s joy in the possession of the intangible. Absolute, perfect, continuous happiness in life is impossible for humans. Happiness is paradoxical because it may coexist with trial, sorrow and poverty. It is the gladness of the heart, rising superior to all conditions.

“A person might possess everything tangible in the world and yet not be happy, for happiness is the satisfying of the soul, not of the mind or the body. Dissatisfaction, in its highest sense, is the keynote of all advance, the evidence of new aspirations, the guarantee of the progressive revelation of new possibilities.

“Individuals should never be contented with anything less than their best efforts can possibly secure for them. There are times when people should be content with what they have, but never with what they are.

“A human being is the only animal that can be really happy. Happiness represents a peaceful attunement of a life with a standard of living. It is one incidental by-product of an unselfish life. No one can make their own happiness the one object of their life and attain it.

“If you would hit the bull’s-eye of happiness on the target of life, aim above it. Place other things higher than your own happiness and it will surely come to you. You can buy pleasure, you can acquire contentment, you can become satisfied, but nature never put real happiness on the bargain-counter. It is the undetectable accompaniment of true living. It is calm and peaceful; it never lives in an atmosphere of worry or of hopeless struggles.

“The basis of happiness is the love of something outside self. Search every instance of happiness in the world, and you will find, when we eliminate all the incidental features, there is always the constant, unchangeable element of love – love of parent for child, love of man and woman for each other, love of humanity in some form, or a great life work into which individuals throws all their energies.

“Happiness is the voice of optimism, of faith, of simple, steadfast love. No cynic or pessimist can be really happy. Cynics are persons who are morally nearsighted – and brag about it. They see the evil in their own heart, and think they see the world. They let the speck in their own eye eclipse the sun. An incurable cynic cannot be happy. The Prince of Bismarck’s lack of happiness was his profound distrust of human nature.”