“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.”
~ Bessie Anderson Stanley
I had never heard of Bessie Anderson Stanley, but have seen this quote or similar incarnations falsely attributed to other writers, primarily Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I did a quick search of her, only to find out that this quote was the winning entry in a contest, the prompt being what is the definition of success? I also realized pretty quickly that the quote was different than this one, though they are fairly similar.
The real quote is this:
The quote is one that is cited in pieces all over pinterest and in inspirational posters, reminding people that true success isn't rooted in material things, but instead in the impact you make in the world. Whether most people really take it to heart though, or just like to hang pretty signs on their walls, is subject to debate I suppose.
People, particularly in this society, are materialistic. The pursuit of bigger, faster, newer. The whining about having to wait for the newest version of the iphone to be released. The complaining the entire time they are on vacation because it isn't as perfect as it should be. The car to keep up with the Joneses. The Ineedabiggerhouseitis. Even the people who hang these saying on the walls of their homes don't usually seem to get it...not really, anyway.
It's hard, fighting the materialism. Everything in the media, on the television, in the magazines tells us that we aren't complete without the things they want us to buy.
Life isn't about things.
Life isn't some contest of material acquisition.
You can't take it with you when you go.
Again, I am sure that I am jaded by the experiences of my life, but I just know that in the end all that matters is how you treated people and what kind of legacy you leave. No one is going to care what car you drove or how big the number on your paycheck was or if the diamond in the ring was real or fake.
If it won't matter then, it shouldn't matter now.
What does matter are the things she writes about.
Laughter, friendship, love, embracing and using your abilities, humility, charity, seeing the beauty around you - that's what life is about.
The rest, truly, is just stuff.