Most people don’t discover what life is all about until just before they die. While we are young, we spend our days striving and keeping up with social expectations. We are so busy chasing life’s big pleasures that we miss out on the little ones, like dancing barefoot in a park on a rainy day with our kids, or planting a rose garden or watching the sun come up.
We live in an age where we have conquered the highest of mountains but have yet to master ourselves. We have taller buildings but shorter tempers, more possessions but less happiness, fuller minds but emptier lives.
Do not wait until you are on your deathbed to realise the meaning of life and the precious role you have to play within it. All too often, people attempt to live their lives backwards: they spend their days striving to get the things that will make them happy, rather than having the wisdom to realise that happiness is not a place you reach but a state you create.
Happiness and a life of deep fulfilment come when you commit yourself, from the very core of your soul, to spending your highest human talents on a purpose that makes a difference in others’ lives. When all the clutter is stripped away from your life, its true meaning will become clear: to live for something more than yourself. Stated simply, the purpose of life is a life of purpose.
As this is the last of life’s lessons, it is my privilege to share with you in this book, I wish you a great life filled with wisdom, happiness and fulfilment. May your days be spent in work that is engaging, on pursuits that are inspiriting and with people who are loving. I’d like to leave you with the following words of George Bernard Shaw, which capture the essence of this final lesson far better than I ever could:
“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one, being a true force of nature instead of a feverish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and, as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”
“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
Excerpt from ‘Who Will Cry When You Die’ by Robin Sharma