Be kind be useful

The purpose of life is not happiness, it’s usefulness.

I think nobody can define the meaning of life in a general sense. Everyone lives their own life and defines their own meaning.

In September 1965 Leo Rosten published an essay titled “The Myths by Which We Live” in “The Rotarian” magazine, and he included an instance of the saying[1]:

Finally there is the myth which gives me the greatest pain: the myth that the purpose of life is happiness, and that you ought to have fun, and that your children ought to have fun. Where was it written that life is so cheap? Where was it written that life is, or should be, or can ever be free of conflict and effort and deprivation and sacrifice?…

…the purpose of life is not to be happy at all. It is to be useful, to be honorable. It is to be compassionate. It is to matter, to have it make some difference that you lived.

Source: (google books) “The Myths by Which We Live”, The Rotarian(Evanston, Illinois) volume 107, number 3 (September 1965) 32–33 etc, page 55.

A version of this quotation is sometimes attributed, falsely[2], to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

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 have lived and lived well.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Got similar advice while listening to an interview Barack Obama did with Bear Grylls, when asked what advice Obama gives his daughters, he rhymed off this mantra: they should be useful, and be kind.

Be kind, be useful.

It’s a piece of advice that’s simple, easy to remember and internalize, and one that helps you consider other people as you act and make decisions. And it’s a nice reminder to consider what you’re able to contribute to any situation.

As far as sayings go, it’s a pretty good one to live by.

Be kind, be useful.

Read more:

[1] https://books.google.co.in/books?id=tDMEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&lr&rview=1&pg=PA33#v=onepage&q&f=false

[2] http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/11/29/purpose/

Mistakes

We make mistakes. We focus on the wrong things. We get too far down a slippery slope. We steal. We cheat. We lie. We deceive others. We deceive ourselves. We see crime or fraud and don’t speak out.

You can be a good person and still exercise poor judgment.

We’re human. We all make mistakes.

Mistakes are bad, no doubt, but not learning from them is worse. The key to learning from mistakes is to admit them without excuses or defensiveness, rub your nose in them a little, and make the changes you need to make to grow going forward. If you can’t admit your mistakes, you won’t grow.

Failure is an event, not a person.

How you choose to interpret your failures will either move you forward in life or hold you back. Every failure can be turned into a stepping stone to success. Every mistake is a lesson in what not to do. Every setback is an opportunity to dig deeper in to yourself, to access resources you didn’t know you have and to acquire wisdom you could gain no other way.

It’s not the failures that define us so much as how we respond to them.