Entering a room for a meeting at UMass recently I found this message on the white board, left from an earlier meeting of people unknown to me:
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you lived and lived well.” attributed to Emerson.
This has left me wondering several things.
First, wouldn’t this type of life also be a happy one? Or, would it for some reason be a less than happy life?
Also, what exactly does it mean to be honorable and compassionate? And, on what level does one’s life need to make a difference in order to be purposeful? Furthermore, who decides if we have lived well? I posted the quote on facebook and a friend asked, ”Does this mean we have to turn in our Fun Passes now?” I thought to myself, and promptly replied, no way!! Certainly we have to find ways to have fun as we “make a difference, right? How compassionate can we be if we aren’t having fun – or conversely – if we are miserable?
I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who wouldn’t agree that they want to make a difference in the world and live well.
How am I striving to do that? How do others? How do you? Are we having fun yet?