THE ENGLISH POET and clergyman Charles Kingsley wrote, “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” He was right. When you have something to be enthusiastic about, you can be in a good mood almost all the time.
If your job doesn’t make you enthusiastic, you’re probably stressed or tired when you come home and just want to watch a little TV and relax. But relaxing will never make you feel happy and fully alive. Naturally, you could make plans to do something this weekend, and you might be thoroughly enthusiastic about it all week. But then Monday comes and back in the grind you go.
What you really need is something ongoing to be enthusiastic about. What you need is a challenging and compelling purpose.
Up until a century ago, simple survival provided just such a purpose for most people, and that’s still the case in much of the world. But for most of us in this country, it’s no longer a challenge to merely survive. We have tamed our world. More than likely, the only way you will ever be challenged by a compelling purpose is if you create one deliberately. And if this purpose is going to make you truly enthusiastic, it needs to be something that personally compels you — some subject or task you think is fascinating or feel is vitally important.
Pursue your purpose with vigor and you will be in a good mood most of the time. Things that bother most people won’t bother you as much. You’ll still have your ups and downs, but they will occur in a higher range. You’ll still have to deal with problems, but you will handle them better. And your improved attitude will make your relationships happier and more harmonious. When you have something ongoing in your life that you are enthusiastic about, the quality of your life is better.
Pursuing a purpose is not comfortable, restful or easy. But it’s great fun! It makes life deeply enjoyable. Watching TV is enticing, sure. It calls. It beckons. But it won’t fulfill you or make you happy. A purpose will.