You may be irreligious, but nobody is a fool who gives up what they cannot keep to gain what they cannot lose. Look at what you can take from this life—you take nothing. But look what you can give in this life—the more we give the fuller the life we live.
This is the secret to a happy life:
“Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does.”
—1 Corinthians 14:1 (The Message)
Another way of looking at it:
“Happiness depends, as nature shows, less on exterior things than most suppose.”
Most of humanity doesn’t have a clue about the real source of peace, hope, joy… happiness. Because we all—yep, every single one of us—without exception, is tempted to secure for ourselves happiness in the things outside us—money, fame, possessions, achievements, honors, pride.
We must lose it all to understand what trumps it all. There’s something that cannot be taken away from you when everything is gone. And I’m not going to tell you what that thing is. It’s up to each of us to find it for ourselves—but be convinced, you cannot get it without losing everything or giving everything up first.
Having given up the trappings of this life—all those seductive temptations that tease us into temporary bliss but that which does not last—there is one further transition.
First, give up what you cannot keep. Next gain what you cannot lose—give your life away.
Doesn’t sound attractive, does it? Get beyond the unattractiveness of the concept and you quickly find the source of life itself.
When we resolve to give to the people and situations of our lives, something happens that can’t be taken away and continues to blossom and grow from within us. But we must keep giving, resolving not to look back, especially when it hurts.
When life is given away for the purposes of love, a force within us grows and overflows. It won’t matter then WHAT people do to us; you see right through it.
They offend you because they’re threatened by the deep peace reservoirs within you fathoms below their understanding. Your poise scares them. The last thing they need—if they’re going to get any of this peace you freely offer—is for you to react, like for like.
No, you see their attack for what it is; every aggression is out of fear and sadness coated in anger. You’ve seen that that is hell, and you won’t have a bar of it. You’re a light on a hill, a beacon to all those around you, and for what you feel you want everyone to feel this enormous sense of wellbeing.
This is why it’s the secret to a happy life—you don’t want this deep reservoir of peace to yourself, you won’t EVERYONE to grab shares in it. Think of this in the world on a panoramic scale! Everyone wanting the best for everyone—it starts with me and you.
Go after a life of love because your life depends on it. Have faith over the journey and don’t give up in despair because this is a long game and it’s not about winning or losing.
There’s far more at stake than the pettiness of competition. Get rid of power and conquests and you see for the first time what is hidden from view otherwise.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Tribework