I'm a big fan of being happy. I really believe that there is an awful lot to be happy about if you look around you. We live in a beautiful country and have more than we need. We're healthy and our children are doing well - life is pretty good.
Ralph Waldo Emerson sees things from this perspective - his quote above sums up the idea that there is much more to life than just seeking to be happy. We should also be thinking about making a worthwhile contribution to the world around us - maybe it's not always "about me" and maybe it's about leaving a legacy of worthwhile actions.
It would be nice to skip through life, singing and dancing, living in a world of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. It is much harder to be honorable and compassionate and focused on others as well as ourselves, but these are such deep and enriching attributes that we would miss out on if we selfishly live just for our own pleasure. Happiness can be quite a shallow goal - it is easy to buy stuff or to be selfish and be quite happy, it is harder to think of others and feel their pain and come along side them and show care and compassion.
It can be a fairly tough call to act honorably in a situation where it is easy to seek your own happiness first rather than the welfare of someone else. I've been around long enough to see friends do fairly despicable things and the betrayal that comes from a "friend" is the worst kind. Our society is very "me" focused now days and nobody looks twice at someone who climbed to the top at the expense of others. I think that seeking the best for others - even if you have to do it at your own expense - makes for a much better world to live in.
To have lived and lived well is going to be my ongoing mantra - to be able to look back on my life and know that I lived the best life I could, that I did no harm to others for my own benefit and to know that my life and decisions contributed to making the world even a little better would be a great legacy to leave. This is something that I am going to have to remind myself of regularly because it so easy to get caught up in the hoopla of the day to day search for bigger and better. Good old Ralph Waldo had something to say about legacies too and I'll leave it to him to wrap this up....