03 Jul Happiness & A Happy Home | Motivational Podcasts
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Today’s reading was edited and adapted from Marriage: a Lifelong Honeymoon by Bernarr Macfadden, published in 1903.
Life, from birth to death, represents an almost continuous struggle for happiness. When the new-born babe first becomes conscious of their surroundings, appropriate food and warmth are about all that are essential to happiness. But as the little one increases in size, their necessities multiply vastly. Happiness begins to mean something more than the satisfying of the appetite and the maintenance of warmth.
The child craves association with other children and longs for parental affection. But the moment school is brought into the child’s life, the really serious pursuit of happiness begins. The educational methods of school life are supposed to prepare one to cope with the world. They are supposed to develop the intelligence that is essential to life’s greatest happiness.
I admit that this is largely a supposition, and that the educational methods of to-day are grossly inadequate. Nevertheless, this entire preparatory process is (in practical terms) for the purpose of adding happiness to adult life. It is supposed to be a preparation for life’s duties and pleasures.
When school is left behind, the selecting of a profession or of some other occupation is the next serious step in life. Many make very grievous mistakes in their choice. The majority of newly-fledged adults consider life to be very commonplace, and the occupation one finally selects is often one that is not congenial or even interesting.
At every step along life’s pathway, the single object of every human is to add to their own happiness and to that of others. It matters not what may be your position or business, you are struggling for happiness. You desire to be as comfortable as you can while still accomplishing your object. Yet even your object itself, if clearly defined in every case, will be found to be that which you believe will add to the happiness of yourself or of those you love.
There are, of course, a few unselfish persons who are willing to sacrifice (and who do sacrifice) their happiness for others, but they are interested in thus sacrificing their own comfort in order that others may be made more happy. So, after all, even these unselfish persons are struggling for happiness — not, it may be, for their own, but for that of others.
Happiness is a will-o’-the-wisp. It is largely an imaginary thing. To define all the conditions essential to happiness would be very difficult. What would mean happiness to one person might mean almost the opposite to another. Happiness, therefore, may mean something peculiar to each individual. Generally speaking, it probably means the bringing about of the conditions that enable us to satisfy all our normal desires.
The satisfying of an abnormal desire may bring us so-called happiness for a short time. But happiness that is satisfying, complete, and lasting cannot be secured through any abnormal influences or conditions.
If, therefore, happiness consists in temporarily satisfying all our normal desires, it must be found largely in obeying all the great laws of our nature; that is, in following our normal instincts; which, however, I must admit, are but rarely possessed in this perverted age.
It cannot be denied that health plays an important part. Disease and happiness are sworn enemies; they are like oil and water. They won’t mix. Regardless of what may be your desires in life, there will be but little true happiness for you unless you have realized the importance of vigorous health.
Health gives you the strength and nervous energy essential to the accomplishing of your desires. Whatever these may be, health also gives you enthusiasm, and this is always required when your efforts are to be exerted in any important work.
All boys and girls, as they grow to maturity, should develop well-defined desires. The young imitate those whom they meet and admire; and, to a certain extent, they shape their own ambitions and their own individualities after these older patterns. As they approach maturity, younger people begin to develop individualities of their own; but even then they are largely duplicates.
Younger adults originate and add here and there, but, as a rule, there is not much change. Then later, as they advance to real adult life, all normal human beings have dreams of a future in which they imagine themselves placed in certain fixed circumstances. And still these ideal circumstances have the element of a common humanity; especially in this: that whatever may be the dreams of these young men and women, there is always connected with them views of a happy home.
For without a home, there can be no true happiness for a man or a woman. No matter how completely one’s ambitions may have been satisfied, we are still an outcast, a vagrant, until we have a home of our own. We cannot know or feel the real, exalted, satisfying happiness that is supposed to come to a human being at some time of their life until independent home conditions are brought into existence.
All boys and girls, as they approach maturity, yearn first of all for happy homes of their own. They may change after maturity; unhealthy environments may pervert their true nature, but if left to the dictates of their inner selves, they will grow up yearning more and more for this first essential element of life’s happiness.
The home is the foundation of all that is good, true, and exalted. It is the foundation of civilization; if it falls and disappears from society, with it must go all that is best in human life. Within the home, you will find the culmination of all your social, physical and spiritual yearnings. It is the home that brings out all that is best and true and noble in human character.
True happiness, therefore, cannot be found outside the realm of home life. It encircles the true home like a halo; it cannot be found anywhere else. I admit that home and happiness rarely go together in the present unhealthy state of civilization. But this is not the fault of the home. It is the fault of those who try ineffectually to make the home.
There is within every human being a yearning for companionship, for affection, for someone to love; and though there may be fleeting moments when this yearning is satisfied outside the home, such satisfaction is only temporary. It leaves one in a barren waste of loneliness, and we yearn often in vain for a continuance of conditions so enticing and so deceiving.
In many instances the greed for money, no doubt, has considerable to do with the unhappiness of home life. The struggle for riches, for financial independence, is at times so absorbing that the home of an adult becomes merely the refuge of a weary, over-worked mind and body.
I once knew a man who was off to the city at eight a.m., never returning until eight p.m., and then so worn out and jaded that he cared for nothing beyond his dinner and sleep. His beautiful house, and acres of grounds, delight not him; he never enjoys them, he only pays for them. He has a charming wife and a beautiful family, but he sees little of either; the latter, indeed, he never sees at all except on Sundays.
Someday, he will leave his children a grand inheritance, but how much better to leave them what money can never buy: the remembrance of a Father! A real Father whose guardianship made home safe; whose tenderness filled it with happiness; who was companion and friend, as well as ruler and guide; whose influence interpenetrated every day of their lives, every feeling of their hearts; who was not merely the author of their beings, but the originator and educator of everything good in them; the visible Father on earth, who made them understand dimly (quote) “our Father who art in Heaven.”
The feverish pursuit of wealth is to be shunned by all men and women whose desire it is to ‘live while they live.’ Money, I grant you, is a requirement in life’s travels, but in getting it make haste slowly — very slowly. Do not start in life with the intention of accumulating a fortune, and then retiring to enjoy it. This retiring on the getting of a fortune is one of the great mistakes of life; for no man or woman should think of retiring from life’s work until they retire to their graves.
The individual who lives a true and happy life, is the one who works until they are forty, sixty, or ninety years of age, every day of their life, until the day comes when they lie down to sleep, and their soul escapes to higher realms.
In the conception of the true home, where greed enters not, and vain ambition has no place, but where love rules forever, Nathaniel Cotton struck the key-note of actual human need when, in the eighteenth century, he wrote: “If solid happiness we prize, within our breast this jewel lies. They are fools who roam and roam, for the world has nothing to bestow. It is from our own selves our joys must flow, and that dear hut, our home.”
Let US exalt the home to the highest possible degree. It is a pedestal upon which we should all be glad to be placed. It is an exultation where we find happiness within ourselves, so satisfying and complete.
When the anticipations that stir the soul of every normal human being fail to be fully realized, and the home is found to offer only a commonplace existence, then, indeed, does life yield its most bitter disappointments.
One of the principal objects of my talk today is to glorify the home, to exalt it to its highest, its noblest altitude. The home can be made easily all that our dreams may desire. It can be completely, thoroughly satisfying to the hungriest soul. All that is necessary is a proper understanding of the relations that should exist be- tween the home-makers.
Those who enter into a compact to create a home should have a full and complete knowledge of the seriousness and possibilities of the task. Marriage was not meant to be a nothingness, a commonplace, humdrum existence. It was meant to be an inspiration to both partners. Its influences should be all that are high and noble and good. It should inspire, it should elevate, it should make one stronger and more capable, in whatever sphere their life may be placed.
It should make a woman more womanly, and a man more manly. It should ennoble and inspire. And in the beginning, it actually does all this. A newly-married couple are usually so happy that they will tell you that they are walking on air. They feel as if they had been furnished with a pair of wings. And why cannot we learn a lesson from this very fact? If marriage is so satisfactory in the beginning, why cannot it remain satisfactory? Why cannot the honeymoon continue all through life? Why must it stop in a week or in a month? These are questions that are worth serious consideration.
Certain conditions influence happiness favorably in the beginning of married life. Similar conditions can effect a continuance of this happiness. Marriage is begun with physical health at high tide. Slowly, but surely, this powerful attraction is exhausted; and in the same proportion does the affection of each partner for the other lessen in intensity.
The true object of marriage, and the only one that should be entertained, is the perfection of the existence that comes of such unions and the subsequent offspring — the combining of all that perfects love, intensifies happiness, and makes life worth living.
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