The point

Lead a good life.

Take what life has to offer.

Contribute more than you take.

Be satisfied with what you contribute.

Make the world a satisfying place for those around you.

And above all.

Be happy with who you are and what you’ve done in this world.

The point, of course, is that true happiness requires and reflects a back-and-forth interaction with the world around us. The people and places. The actions and objects. The energy. This is something that everyone knows instinctively, but don’t give conscious thought toward.

I could go so far in life as to give every penny I make to causes I believe in. I would take great satisfaction from doing so. But in doing so, I’d compromise the things I want to do for myself. I’d maximize my contribution to others’ happiness, but sacrifice myself in the process.

Some people do that, and are perfectly happy with the arrangement. They should be–it’s their choice.

Some people do that and can’t stand the arrangement. But they can’t get themselves out of it, even though they should.

I could hoard up my money and spend it all on myself, believing that I’m entitled to do that–I earned it for myself, and no one else deserves to profit from my efforts. Doing so would maximize the happiness resulting from personal gain.

There are lots of people who do that. You hear about them all the time. Not just those who would steal from others, but perfectly law-abiding citizens who feel it’s not their problem to worry about the rest of the world. After all, if they have a job, why shouldn’t that guy on the street? He probably just hasn’t tried hard enough.

You know, it was hard for me to even write that last paragraph. Just in typing it, I had a strongly negative reaction to the words.

The point is to find your own balance. Truth is, it’s okay to be one of these two extremes, either giving too much or too little. It’s okay so long as you’re happy with yourself, and no one can tell you otherwise. What matters is what we do as individuals. What mixture of give and take puts your happiness scale in equilibrium?

Most people, in my opinion, err on the side of personal gain. Not because they’re bad people, but because it’s easier to comprehend and appreciate the happiness that arises from it. Often, they just haven’t tried giving…at least, not enough to realize how good a feeling that is. In my world, the satisfaction I get from giving far outweighs any positives I get from purchasing something for myself.

And in order to be truly happy in this world, I have to do both.

Find your balance. Find your happiness.

There’s no great and unknown secret to life. The answer is–and has always been–right in front of us.