A Mistake in Waiting for Happiness - Earl Nightingale

Another essay from Earl Nightingale - from "How to Completely Change Your Life in 30 Seconds" series.


Have you ever noticed how most people seem to be waiting to be happy in the future? They seem to be so intent on getting through the day, they forget to enjoy it. It’s as though happiness is a distant city to them—a city they’re striving to reach. But happiness is something that must be learned and practiced if we’re to become skilled at it. Pushing it out into the determinate future involves running the risk that we won’t know how to be happy when we get there.

It’s like saying, some day when I can afford to buy a piano, I’ll sit down and play beautiful music. It doesn’t work that way. Owning a piano doesn’t confer the knowledge of how to play. And arriving at a particular stage of life, whether it’s measured in terms of age or income, doesn’t mean that we’ll suddenly become happy people.

A reporter interviewing J. Paul Getty, who could, at that time, have cashed in his chips for several billion dollars asked, “Mr. Getty, what is it that money cannot buy?” And he replied, “I don’t think it can buy health and I don’t think it can buy a good time. Some of the best times I have ever had didn’t cost me any money."

The fact is that most of the ingredients necessary for happiness are present in the lives of most people every day. They are things and conditions for which we need not wait. They are ours today. And most of them are things we’re so used to, we take them for granted. They’re the people with whom we live and work, our children, our hopes; there’s the anticipation of the day and what it will bring; the opportunity to work well and honestly so that we can take pride and satisfaction from it and by so doing enjoy our leisure and our rest. There’s the happiness that should come from being with our friends and neighbors. And the thoughtful person finds happiness in just being alive. He enjoys walking on a sunny day... but he likes to walk in the rain, too. He can find happiness from the sound of the surf, or the crackling of a fire.


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