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/

Avoid the Pitfalls: Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters

I recently came across a poem by Portia Nelson that talks about a hole in the sidewalk and how being creatures of habit we continue to fall into the same hole even after we become aware of the hole.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
Chapter One of My Life: I walk down the street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It still takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter Two: I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place! But it isn’t my fault. And it still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter Three: I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there. I still fall in. It’s a habit! My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Chapter Four: I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
Chapter Five: I walk down a different street.
― Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk by Portia Nelson is a book of quick, humorous and inspirational bits that can enlighten your day. She first released, what she referred to as a book of “pieces of me”, in 1977. Since then, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk has gone on to become a well-loved classic. In this timeless classic, Portia has shared with us a legacy that will last the ages. After all, as Portia says:

“Knowing one’s own feelings and being able to trust them is the difference between existing and living.”

Take 5 minutes today to think about something you keep doing over and over again that isn’t good for you, and which you would like to change.