The hardest job many of us will ever have in our lives has nothing to do with work.
It has to do with life. With developing a basic understanding of our purpose. With pursuing that purpose. And with making sure that purpose and that pursuit brings us happiness.
Because happiness is really and truly all that matters.
The happiness you feel in this life is a radiant force that touches everyone close to you and adds to their happiness. It affects everything you do and how you do it. It affects the people you do these things with and, in turn, how they do the things they do.
You read a lot of stuff about how to be an effective manager or leader. And the one common thread is that the leaders who are the most effective are the ones who are the happiest. The ones who get joy from their work. The ones who can inspire others because they themselves are inspired by their love of what they do.
And this principle is not just restricted to business. It’s universal.
Students learn more from teachers who are happy to be teachers. Whole countries can excel under the leadership of people who derive joy from leadership.
Look at John Kennedy and how he was able to inspire a whole country.
Look at Martin Luther King and how he was able to inspire a civil rights movement. Look at the Dalai Lama and how he is able to inspire hope in places where hope is hard to come by at the best of times. Just by spreading messages of peace and harmony and equality that people instinctively know comes from the heart.
These people inspire countless others and together they form a movement that keeps on growing.
I spend a lot of time looking at the world. I’m not thrilled with what I see. There are a lot of things that need to change. A lot of things that have gone on too long taking the world down the wrong path. It’s pretty dark and dreary and it does not inspire happiness.
But lately, I have started to feel strongly that the best way to defeat the dark side is not to criticize it, but to extol the virtues of the other side.
Because when you look closely on the other side, you see that there is a lot to be optimistic about. We are growing as a species. People are generally smarter. People are healthier. People are more inquisitive. And people who are following their happiness are coming up with great ideas all the time.
If you open yourself up to the world and focus your thinking on the positive, you will almost immediately see that there are many, many people out there working to make this world a better place.
They are creating new ideas and technologies to slow down the pollution of the earth.
They are creating and building businesses based on and powered by alternative energy sources, which as time goes by, will eliminate the need for exploiting the planet on the scale to which it is being exploited now.
They are creating new kinds of architecture to house people and businesses in comfortable and innovative work environments that promote greater productivity and harmony.
They are inventing technologies that are allowing people to share ideas and build products in new and environmentally responsible ways.
They are developing amazing new ways to grow food in controlled environments that do not require chemicals.
They are devising new treatments for disease and ways to keep people healthier to reduce the horrendous burden that disease inflicts on the health care industry.
The list goes on and on and on. And one by one, individuals, groups, and even whole countries are being inspired by these people and their ideas.
And this is what will change the world for the better.
The idea that more and more people will be able to work in these new areas and derive real happiness and inspiration from them is something I personally find quite inspiring myself.
Because as new businesses form and grow, run by truly forward-thinking people who understand that the earth is not a piggy bank that we can keep robbing, the changes will increase, both in speed and frequency. And the ideas will mature. And the world will become a different place.
But going forward, it’s very much going to be about how many of us support these technologies and ideas or are willing to put their own ideas out there. It’s about how many of us discover that happiness lies in truly being part of the solution. It’s about how many of us are willing to push for change and realize that this is actually the ideal time to do that.
I, for one, am very happy to see that it’s off to a flying start and the future looks a lot brighter than some people would have you believe.
But the bottom line is that our happiness is what we choose to make it. And our world and our future in it is about how willing we are to make it happen.