George Bernard Shaw wrote the following sentence in a letter prefacing his book “Man and Superman: a Comedy and Philosophy” which can be used as a guide to living a meaningful, productive and joyful life:
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
George Bernard Shaw
Epistle Dedicatory to Arthur Bingham Walkley
“Man and Superman: a Comedy and a Philosophy”
The following is an elaboration on the four points that George Bernard Shaw makes to finding the true joy in life:
- “Be used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one” – This quote could easily be mistaken to mean that we should have some elaborate goals to save the world and unless we do we are worthless. This is not true. We are children of God who are here to express God’s divinity (as explained in Enlightenment and the Meaning of Life) and we should go about our lives with this in mind. We should infuse everything we do with joy, compassion, peace, love and wisdom. This is the “mighty purpose” which we should recognize.
- “Be thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap” – We should be productive! However, again, this could be misunderstood to mean that we must be busy, busy, busy all day and collapse in exhaustion by nightfall. It’s good to be active and have things to do but realize that we’re divinely productive when we infuse whatever we do, even just conversing with others, with good cheer, goodwill, courage and beauty.
- “Be a force of Nature” – This could be misconstrued to mean that we should run roughshod over people who get in the way of what we want to do. To be a force of Nature (notice that it’s with a capital “N”) is to be a person who is in control of themselves and has a higher perspective on life. This person is mature, wise, serene and joyful and understands the meaning of life.
- Not be “a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy” – This is a continuation of the previous point and it emphasizes the idea that we need to learn how to control the impulses and desires of our lower self. Specifically we need to stop being petty, immature, greedy, self-centered, possessive, envious and jealous. We need to GROW UP and realize how wonderful life is no matter what our circumstances!