The True Joy in Life by George Bernard Shaw

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:

  1. “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.
  2. “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.
  3. “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.
  4. 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!

Cheers,
Brendan

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Posted in Joy, Spirituality
9 comments on “The True Joy in Life by George Bernard Shaw
  1. [...] inspirational post here from Brendan McPhillips presents The True Joy in Life by George Bernard Shaw posted at Brendan McPhillips. Read it and be [...]

  2. [...] ← The True Joy in Life by George Bernard Shaw [...]

  3. [...] the productive work you do, will benefit society. Allow yourself to be excited about being “being a force of Nature” which, as George Bernard Shaw says is “the true joy in [...]

  4. This is definitely some thing that I use as a guide for my life. And as you said you must understand what he is saying. I find that George Bernard Shaw was a wit and a visionary and i find his quotations wonderful to read and quote.

  5. Jim Romanucci says:

    I have discovered that many so called joyous, compassionate, peaceful, loving and wise men are indeed quite as responsible for the state of the world as the most odious, wicked, and destructive of the any race of human beings. As Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    So, the question I have, for myself as well as others is, “What are you going to do about it?”

    And, may I add, a hearty thank you to those brave men and women who give a damn, do something, and make a difference.

    • John says:

      Jim, I like you r comment. The first thing that popped into my pea brain when reading it was, “Ok he’s thanking everyone in a way that looks like he isn’t one of ‘those brave men and women who give a damn, do something, and make a difference.’ So what has he done?” So Jim Romanucci, where do you stand? Are you one of those brave men making a difference? How!?

  6. [...] There are many important messages in this song—the power of knowing you have a calling, that you are doing what you are meant to do, that you are acting on the force and focus that come from a perfectly clear vision.  But what hit me this weekend as I listened was the difference one person can make when all of those factors are united laser-like in action dedicated to making the world freer, more just, equitable, humane.  This is what George Bernard Shaw has written is the “true joy in life,” [...]

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