The True Joy in Life

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week.)

For many years now I’ve kept this passage from George Bernard Shaw in my collection of quotes:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

Shaw’s birthday is this week: Wednesday, to be exact (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950). Probably best known for his 1913 play Pygmalion, Shaw was the first person to receive both a Nobel Prize in Literature (in 1925) and an Academy Award (in 1938, for Best Adapted Screenplay … of Pygmalion).

That quote from Shaw convicts me, for I do not work as hard or as diligently as I ought. I am too often a “feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances.” I can work, I have worked — my novel, coming out on Shaw’s birthday, is proof at least of that capability — but I need to apply myself more fully to my work.


“Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me,” wrote George Bernard Shaw. (Image: “Candle Burning,” by Nanda93, on Wikimedia Commons.)

I hope I can do better, this week and onward, to find that “true joy in life” of believing that my purpose is “a mighty one” and that the work I do is meaningful and important — even if only to myself.

And I hope you find that true joy, as well.

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