How to Succeed

Reflection by Mary E. Latela, December 5, 2015

We were preparing to say farewell to a wonderful man who had just died, and whose funeral was coming  up. When asked for my input, I suggested a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson.  When I researched the passage, I read there was some dispute about whether RWE had actually written it. In any case, this message sets out what success means in the life of a kind,  generous, hard-working, man of faith.

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

So for those who think they have too much to do, and not enough time, or who they would take time out to be more attentive and engaged with this beautiful world, it seems that it’s not that hard to live a good and successful life. Turning the world upside down, becoming the most famous person in the world, owning half of the state in which you live – no, these don’t make much difference. It’s in the interconnectedness of our lives that we find meaning, and in which others find comfort, and how they think of us,  and later on, how they remember us.



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