Encouraging Words for 2022
I have been thinking for several weeks about writing something profound on our loss as a society of integrity, morality, courage, honesty, empathy, compassion, happiness, and community. The society that I grew up in, and one in which I have spent 84 years, no longer exists. I am baffled by the extent of greed, (me-ism, me, me, & me; me, me & mine; me, me & more), hate, misogyny, lying, narcissism, and a liberal dose, especially with politicians, of the Dunning Kruger Syndrome. Talk without action is just talk. Dreams without action are just dreams. As you so accurately state and explain “The annual rituals of happiness have been replaced by a frenzy of pleasure-seeking activities.
When I reflect of some of my great “happiness” teachers I always start with my Mother whose constant message was :
“Happiness is always the way within. You are the seeker and the keeper of your own happiness”.
Often, if I complained she would always say “Grant, I complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”
“Never worry about anything you have no control over. Just focus on the positives. Know that every dark cloud has a silver lining.”
Optimism and happiness were a way of Life and my very foundation. I learned very early on that it is not which way the wind blows that determines our direction, but how we set our sails. I believe that I also learned that you could complain about the wind, or you can harness it and make something of it.
I recall reading a story when I was in kindergarten or grade one about the Sun and Wind and their wager of who could make a man they were observing take off his coat. The Wind blew and blew and the more it blew the man wrapped his coat more firmly around him. The Sun then shone brightly on the man, and not only did he take off his coat, but he also removed his shirt. My lesson learned was that real strength does not come from force, but the application of reason and sound principles. Warmth is Kindness!
In the mid-nineties, I founded a College of Humanities at one of my Alma Matters which was led by a brilliant Philosopher, Peter Emberley. The concept was “block teaching” where an entire course could be taught in three weeks. That permitted any qualified person to take a course for three weeks vacation or deliver a course by brilliant individuals from other academic institutions, businesses, or industries. It was a marvelous success.
And it leads me to describe a three-day workshop presented by Mark Kingwell an eminent Philosopher at the University of Toronto, who in 1999 published : “Better Living: In Pursuit of Happiness from Plato to Prozac”. Participants were composed of 1st to 4th year students and a variety of learned Academics from several Universities. The weekend workshop focused on each participant discussing their understanding of happiness and what made them happy. There was a high level of intellectual exchange and interchange of heated debate. Then a first-year student suggested that 12 pairs of red shoes in her closet was the true meaning of happiness to her. A hush fell over the participants. But Kingwell, in a nanosecond, asked “And, what do you believe Plato would say about that?”. The discussion on “happiness” rose to a whole new level!
I close with three of my favorite quotes which I “gift” to you as they have had a major impact on my pursuit of happiness and wellbeing. Hopefully, their meanings will make 2022 a “Best Ever” Year!
“In times of change learners inherit the earth, while the learners of the status quo find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
Sir Isaac Newton:
“I have stood on the shores of time, picking up a beautiful seashell here and there, while all before me lies the Great Sea of Life ………. Undiscovered!”
Morris West in “Shoes of The Fisherman”:
“Yesterday, I met a whole man. It is a rare experience, but always an illuminating and ennobling one. It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment, or the courage to pay the price. One has to abandon all together the search for security and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world as a lover, and yet demand no easy return of love. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to the total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying”.
Happiness is the Cornerstone and Foundation of our very lives. Yes, the way is within. We must always remember that Life is a One-way Street. There is no going back! Therefore, cherish the present and enjoy the future. I do not believe that Life is random. There is a pattern and purpose to everything. If we see with the heart as well as the eyes we will see so much more.
Health & Happiness!
Grant Bartlett, PhD is a Serial Entrepreneur, Global Traveler, Consummate Reader, Mentor to Millennials, former Hockey Team owner of the Calgary Flames who has experienced a myriad of Careers in Government, Academia and Industry. Grant has mapped the Rocky Mountains and explored the Ocean depths. He believes that when you reach the far horizon there will be another. Never stop Dreaming.