Great Minds Think Alike Regarding Happiness

The French philosopher Rene Descartes once gave the best reason for becoming an avid reader: “The reading of all good books is like conversing with the finest men of past centuries.” Sure, one person’s “fine” is another person’s trash, but few can argue that Einstein qualifies for the short list.

What about the man who discovered not only logic and biology, but–get this–, you can even throw zoology and a few other fields in there. That’s right, Aristotle single-handedly gave the world a sizable chunk of the fields listed as your curriculum choices. And so, you must wonder, what would a convo with Aristotle sound like in your third ear?

Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. –Aristotle

Trying to chat with Aristotle is like holding a convo with a guy whose girl just dumped him. He can never bring himself to stray away from talking about the source of his happiness. But Aristotle is not alone in this regard.

From the first opening of eyelids each day to the final shutting of our orbital ___, everything we do aims at happiness. To think otherwise is on par with fancying we eat for the sake of growing hunger or take showers in hopes of washing on filth.

In other words, Aristotle’s insight is a self-evident truth. So the question naturally becomes: What makes human-beings happy?

When Genius Personified Offers a Tip for Happiness

So, who else universally qualifies as a “great” mind, you know, someone worthy of seeking advice from on the matter? Look no further than to the synonyms listed under the word “genius.”

What stands out to you about this list: Intelligent, Brainiac, Brilliant, Einstein? Yep. Supposedly, there was a guy so smart that history saw it fit to list his name as a synonym for genius. And so, the question begs posing: What was Einstein’s take on achieving happiness?

Einstein, the master of simplifying complex things, treated the notion of happiness as did he one of his famous equations. “If you want to life a happy life,” noted Einstein, “tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”

Spoken like a true genius!

Why was Einstein of the view hitching your style to a worthwhile goal is the key to happiness? The answer is simple: dream-chasing is the very definition of success! 

The Best Definition of Success

Most know Earl Nightingale as “the Father of the Self-Help Movement.” And so, given that self-help boils down to success, how did Nightingale define “success”?

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.

In other words, “success” is just a fancy word for taking steps daily to realize a worthwhile dream. And in the process of building your Rome, which, we’re always reminded of, was not built in a day, you’ll also use up a considerable amount of your time each day. On cue with this definition, another of history’s great minds Ralph Waldo Emerson added, “To fill the hour–that is happiness.”

The reason busy people are said to have the most leisure is because if your mind is consumed with working toward a lofty goal, then there’s no time left for anything else. Of course, to fill the hour with your life’s passion assumes you have something to be passionate about.

Key to Finding Your Life’s Passion

Wise indeed was whoever said life is a promise to fulfill. And for all who dare approach life from this vantage point, it becomes clear we all come to the world’s stage with a “calling,” if you will. Of course, to assume each person has potential by no means sheds light on the “for what.”

Aristotle already answered the universal why mortals do what they do–to be happy–but how are we to go about finding our own stairway to heaven? Joseph Campbell gave the best advice: “Follow your bliss.”

To put it simply: find out what you’re good at, then you’ll know what you’re good for. And once you’ve mastered the production of your goods and services, then make good by getting paid for it. In that order.

It appears that most of us have the process backwards. We set out on our journey to become rich and famous, but, according to history’s greatest minds: success is a result, not a goal.

We seek to grab hold of a golden egg instead of developing ourselves into the goose that lays the golden eggs. Which brings up the final point.

The Aim of Life

If happiness is an effect, not a cause, then what serves as the “happy root.” Oscar Wilde best answered the question when he said that “The aim of life self-development.” And how does one go about developing one’s self in full? “To realize one’s nature perfectly,” Wilde answered.

As for what truly constitutes human nature, well, that’s another subject for another article. Fortunately, the philosophers of the world have already said everything important that needs to be said; so, philosophy or religion would be a good place to start.

In sum, will yourself to make the necessary sacrifices to turn your hobby into a profession. Then, while you’re at it, uncover your true nature and strive to develop yourself fully according to what wisdom dictates.



one person

‘The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.’


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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