Simple Life Habits & Cultivating Joy | Motivational Podcasts

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Today’s podcast was edited and adapted from The Simple Life by Charles Wagner, published in 1901.

DO you find life enjoyable these days? For my part, on the whole, it seems rather depressing, and I fear that my opinion is not altogether personal. As I observe the lives of my contemporaries, and listen to their talk, I find myself unhappily confirmed of the opinion that they do not get much pleasure out of things. And certainly it is not from lack of trying; but it must be acknowledged that their success is meager.

Where can the fault be? Some accuse politics or business; others social problems or terrorism. From morning till night, wherever we go, the people we meet are hurried, worried, preoccupied. Some have ruined their health in the miserable conflicts of petty politics: others are disheartened by the meanness and jealousy they have encountered in the world of art and science. Business competition troubles the sleep of not a few.

The crowded curricula of study and the exigencies of new careers spoil life for many young individuals. The working classes suffer the consequences of ceaseless industrial automation. It is becoming disagreeable to govern, because authority is diminishing; to teach, because respect is vanishing. Wherever one turns there is matter for discontent.

And yet history shows us certain epochs of upheaval which were as lacking in idyllic tranquility as our own, but which the gravest events did not prevent from being joyful. It even seems as if the seriousness of affairs, the uncertainty of tomorrow, the violence of social convulsions, sometimes became a new source of vitality.

I think myself nowise mistaken in saying that human joy has celebrated its finest triumphs under the greatest tests of endurance. But to sleep peacefully on the eve of battle or to exult at the arduous climb, people had then the stimulus of an internal harmony which we perhaps lack.

Joy is not in THINGS, it is in US, and I hold to the belief that the causes of our present unrest (of this contagious discontent spreading everywhere) are within us at least as much as in external conditions.

To give one’s self up heartily to diversion, one must feel themselves on solid ground, must believe in life and find it within them. And we must not confound pleasure with the instruments of pleasure. To be a painter, does it suffice to arm one’s self with a brush? Or does the purchase at great cost of a Stradivarius make one a musician? No more, if you had the whole paraphernalia of amusement in its perfection, would it advance you upon the road to happiness. But with a bit of crayon a great artist makes an immortal sketch.

You need talent or genius to paint; and to enjoy one’s self, the faculty of being happy: whoever possesses it is entertained at slight cost. This joyful faculty is destroyed by skepticism, artificial living, over-abuse. It is fostered by confidence, moderation, and normal habits of thought and action.

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