The Real Joy of Living

Nelson Mandela once remarked that he befriended his jailers; those grim, khaki-clad overseers of his decades of hard labor in a limestone quarry, by “exploiting their good qualities.” Asked if he believed that all people were kind at their core, he responded, “There is no doubt whatsoever, provided you are able to arouse their inherent goodness.” If that sounds like wishful thinking, then think again, because Mandela actually did it.

I believe that the real joy of living comes from the goodness you express to others without expecting any reciprocal feelings. We tend to expect people to be kind to us if we are kind to them. But most of the time it doesn’t work that way unfortunately, because of the inherent selfishness of humanity. Unless you have been programmed to be kind by parents and teachers, nature intervenes with a rule of “only if I feel like it.” If you want to change your life and help others do the same by arousing their “inherent goodness,” then here are a few areas worth reflecting on:

Patience
The art of patience is difficult to develop because it demands you to be tolerant. An old Indian saying states: “Vanquish an angry person by your gentleness.” This means that being tolerant and patient is especially important in those moments when you feel the urge to reach out and reduce someone’s life span.

Kindness
Goodness in action is kindness and love of others. Start today and think of the many ways in which you can “exploit” your own good qualities, as Mandela would say, by giving, not just in terms of money, but by offering encouragement or assistance to people around you who are struggling with their job or personal life.

Intellect
Intellect is what you know, not necessarily how clever or intelligent you are. This can be improved by developing your knowledge of the billions of things you don’t currently know. Join a library or scour the internet and discover all the amazing facts available to you. Then use this knowledge to improve your personal development, help others and as an interesting point of conversation.

Compassion for Others
Compassion is a powerful means of showing kindness to other people who are experiencing physical or mental anguish. Compassion essentially arises through empathy, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. The key to developing compassion is to make it a daily practice. It is one of the few things which can bring long-term happiness to your life and others. Think about it when you interact with others, and meditate on it in your quiet moments until it becomes a part of your life.

Taking Action
You recognize a tree by its fruit. Therefore, other people will recognize you by the actions you take to develop the qualities of goodness and kindness, and in your positive expectations for the future. Who wants to hang around a negative self-centered person?

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