“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
After the hate filled political convention last week I needed something to offset the doom and gloom. Instead of us looking for happiness from the outside we owe it to ourselves not to succumb to the siren song of the hucksters that promise us everything without offering us anything real.
I was pleased when I was offered the following antidote to all the ill will. In truth I believe the key to happiness lies within ourselves.
TEN VIRTUES FOR THE MODERN AGE
by Alain de Botton
1 RESILIENCE. Keeping going even when things are looking dark; accepting that reversals are normal; remembering that human nature is, in the end, tough. Not frightening others with your fears.
2 EMPATHY. The capacity to connect imaginatively with the sufferings and unique experiences of another person. The courage to become someone else and look back at yourself with honesty.
3 PATIENCE. We lose our temper because we believe that things should be perfect. We’ve grown so good in some areas (putting men on the moon etc.), we’re ever less able to deal with things that still insist on going wrong; like traffic, government, other people… We should grow calmer and more forgiving by getting more realistic about how things actually tend to go.
4 SACRIFICE. We’re hardwired to seek our own advantage but also have a miraculous ability, very occasionally, to forego our own satisfactions in the name of someone or something else. We won’t ever manage to raise a family, love someone else or save the planet if we don’t keep up with the art of sacrifice.
5 POLITENESS. Politeness has a bad name. We often assume it’s about being ‘fake’ (which is meant to be bad) as opposed to ‘really ourselves’ (which is meant to be good). However, given what we’re really like deep down, we should spare others too much exposure to our deeper selves. We need to learn manners, which aren’t evil – they are the necessary internal rules of civilisation. Politeness is very linked to tolerance, the capacity to live alongside people whom one will never agree with, but at the same time, can’t avoid.
6 HUMOUR. Seeing the funny sides of situations and of oneself doesn’t sound very serious, but it is integral to wisdom, because it’s a sign that one is able to put a benevolent finger on the gap between what we want to happen and what life can actually provide; what we dream of being and what we actually are, what we hope other people will be like and what they are actually like. Like anger, humour springs from disappointment, but it’s disappointment optimally channelled. It’s one of the best things we can do with our sadness.
7 SELF-AWARENESS. To know oneself is to try not to blame others for one’s troubles and moods; to have a sense of what’s going on inside oneself, and what actually belongs to the world.
8 FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness means a long memory of all the times when we wouldn’t have got through life without someone cutting us some slack. It’s recognising that living with others isn’t possible without excusing errors.
9 HOPE. The way the world is now is only a pale shadow of what it could one day be. We’re still only at the beginning of history. As you get older, despair becomes far easier, almost reflex (whereas in adolescence, it was still cool and adventurous). Pessimism isn’t necessarily deep, nor optimism shallow.
10 CONFIDENCE. The greatest projects and schemes die for no grander reasons than that we don’t dare. Confidence isn’t arrogance, it’s based on a constant awareness of how short life is and how little we ultimately lose from risking everything.
To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.
THINGS A MOTHER WOULD NEVER SAY
“Just live with him.. You don’t have to marry him. ”
“I don’t need any grandchildren”
“I think a cluttered bedroom is a sign of creativity.”
“Yeah, I used to skip school, too.”
“Just leave all the lights on…it makes the house more cheery.”
“Could you turn the music up louder, so I can enjoy it, too?”
“Well, if Timmy’s Mom says it’s okay, that’s good enough for me.”
“I saw your subscription to Playboy was expiring so I sent in a check to renew.”
“Your wife knows best – forget about the advice I gave you”
“Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.”
She said: Antiques have become very popular. Right now there are 15 million Americans who have things that are old, funny-looking, don’t work and are only kept for sentimental purposes. Some of these are called antiques – and the rest are called husbands.
“One of the virtues of being very young is that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your imagination.”
Doug and Bill started a business from scratch. Through hard work hey built it into a very successful company with sales in the millions. Doug and Bill lived like kings. Almost overnight, things changed. Sales dropped sharply, customers disappeared and the business failed. Doug and Bill blamed each other and they parted on unfriendly terms.
Five years later, Doug drove up to a decrepit diner and stopped for a cup of coffee. As he was wiping some of the crumbs from the table, a waiter approached the table. Doug looked up and gasped, it was Bill.
“Bill,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s a terrible thing seeing you working as a waiter in a place like this.”
“Yeah,” said Bill, curling his lip, “But at least I don’t have to eat here.”
I don’t hold a grudge—not even against people who have done things to me I’ll NEVER forgive.
“The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, “I was wrong”.”
Sydney J. Harris
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
Management is not responsible for duplicates from previous dailies. The editor is somewhat senile.
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