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天行乾,君子以自强不息,地势坤,君子以厚德载物。春华秋实,天道酬勤。生有尽,业无穷,勤无价,耕耘为天。

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Don’t let happiness run away   

2009-11-10 17:01:51|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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A college student once told me: :”I don’t need to be happy—just successful.” It’s an odd juxtaposition. She needn’t be happy--- “just successful”. She places one in opposition to the other.

For students, today’s expressions are tomorrow’s practices. Their words can be the visible signs of the less visible struggles encountered by us all.

I have a memory from my own undergraduate years of a headline in my campus newspaper:” why  aren’t we happy?” As the headline suggests, we fell short of leading joyful lives. Yet at least happiness was still on the agenda. What underlies the tendency of many of us, like my success ---seeking student, is give up genuinely trying?

I’ve often failed to enjoy Sunday because of my schedule on Monday. At bottom, it was simply anticipatory anxiety over the work of the week ahead---fear that there would be unexpected complications or that I would fail to measure up in some way. Usually, when Monday came, I did quite well. Much of what I worried about never happened.

Joy has its own moral underpinning. There’s a completeness to joy that does not allow us to exclude our sense of the person we should be. Pleasure is certainly possible in less-than-honorable actions. But the experience of joy requires more; it is pleasure taken in worthy things.

True joy requires choices that develop into habits that evolve into character. And that’s work we can’t delegate. The essential first step is trying to live a less fearful life---one that avoids collapsing life’s possibilities before exploring them. It entails welcoming uncertainty and comfortable incompleteness.

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