“No one can give you better advice than yourself”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
A troubled business man sought out a wise young prince for advice.
“How can I help?” the prince asked.
“I have worked hard and made myself very wealthy” said the businessman “but I am very unhappy”.
“And what is it you seek now?”.
“I want happiness” said the business man.
“That is easily achieved” replied the prince, “Simply take away ‘I’ and ‘want’ and you will have happiness”.
The deep understandings contained in this simple story are easily overlooked. This story is perhaps the most direct road map to happiness ever recorded. As I reflect on this story I recognise that many of the happiest people that I know, or that I had discovered in history or in literature, neatly conformed to the stencil laid out by the prince.
What the prince is saying is:
Stop focusing all of you attention on yourself. Forget yourself. Live for others. Be open, giving, compassionate and helpful.
Give up striving on arriving at a future place where all your wants and needs are fulfilled. Live in the present. Shed future wants and become contented with who you are now and what you have now. If we are contented now chances are that we will be contented in the future. It I also very likely that happiness will be a regular experience in our lives.
Contentedness and selflessness (sharing and helping others to meet their needs as opposed to selfishness – pursuing your own needs and competing with others) are more likely to bring more happiness than a new car, a bigger house or stunning new earrings.
… that is the royal recipe for happiness that the prince mapped out. I enjoy it for it’s simplicity.
What is your recipe for living a happy life?