A great number of self-improvement gurus speak of wealth. If you turn on the television, surf the internet, go to the book store and look at the best sellers list, a great number focus on financial well-being. There are those who speak of other aspects of self-improvement; however, the majority promote that which will fill the seats: monetary gain. Even the great Napoleon Hill, of Think and Grow Rich fame, spoke of financial wealth even though he invoked religious and spiritual themes. Of course, he was writing after the Great Depression and almost everyone’s focus was on finances at the time. But as one of the more popular sayings goes, it is money that makes the world go ’round. And there is nothing wrong with money. The great motivational “encourager,” “money is not the most important thing in life, but it is reasonably close to oxygen.” An adequate amount of money provides for peace of mind, a house, the bills paid and debtors kept at bay; it simply enables one to provide for family-and if need be-friends.
Money is not the root of all evil, only the people who love it above all else. And this is where a problem arises. In the scheme of things, for you, where does money rate in relationship to other things: family, honesty, integrity, sincerity, valor, trust, all which can be lost or compromised if money is the priority.
What one needs to do in order to become financially successful has been covered time and again by many a guru; however, what is interesting to note is that the greatest lessons one can learn from the pursuit of great financial rewards are offshoots of the pursuit or excellence. Because in order to excel, excel in most areas of life, one must make great sacrifices in time, exert great effort, gain focus and purpose, maintain a serious level of persistence, and overcome the self and self-defeating habits through thorough self-examination and discipline. These things are of a much greater reward and of a much greater eternal significance (these principles last and remain with the individual forever; money and material things are fleeting and temporary), for it is here where one comes to understand the true purpose of life.
“It is one of the strange ironies of this strange life [that] those who work the hardest, who subject themselves to the strictest discipline, who give up certain pleasurable things in order to achieve a goal, are the happiest
It is this being of “the happiest people” that truly and significantly enriches the soul. There are many who are rich but find little joy in life. There are many poor and middle class who live their lives this way too. But great joy abounds in this universe of ours. However, in order to find true joy one must tap into certain universal laws and principles. And I’m not talking “I’ve just been to Disneyland” joy but joy that lasts a lifetime and then some:
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”–Chinese proverb
It is this reaching out to others, this giving of the self that
invigorates and enlivens. Time and time and time again stories come out of Hollywood (I use Hollywood because few of our neighbors are being interviewed these days) about first time mothers and fathers and the great joy and purpose therein that they have found. They see for the first time real joy. They see for the first time much greater importance beyond the self. They see for the first time that nothing is more important than a child for whom they would give their lives if need be. Why? Let’s examine this truth.
We know that great joy comes from reaching out to help others, but where does the greatest joy reside? Certainly one can find fleeting joys, temporary joys, but where do the long lasting, self-perpetuating joys come from? What is most important to most people. Answer? Family. Spouse. Mother. Father. Son. Daughter. Grandmother. Grandfather. Relations. Consider this point, how long do we grieve for the loss of a car, a job, a favorite piece of clothing or jewelry? Certainly we can experience sadness or depression because of loss here, but do any of them last a lifetime like when we lose a daughter, son, friend, mother, father? Why? Because we lose a bit of ourselves, our humanity,
our families when relations die. It is these lives that give us life. Sustain us. Promote us. Energize us. You can take all the self-help, self-improvement, self-actualization classes you want, but if you lack family, a family that nurtures and encourages, then you are left with little success that matters.
At the foundation of any healthy, successful society is the family.