“I cannot believe the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” – Leo Rosten
To have made some difference. Powerful words when you realize that we truly do live in a world which believes our sole purpose is only to be blissfully happy.
Sadly, we’ve convinced ourselves that happiness comes in the perpetual chase of bigger and better “things”. Little do we know, to have made some difference in the lives of those around us, brings about the purest sense of happiness there is.
The other day, I was speaking to a coworker who I hadn’t seen in well over eight months. I knew he had taken a leave of absence, but was never fully aware of the circumstances.
As it turns out, his mother, who is in her early 70s, was beginning to show signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. With some 1,000 miles between them, he knew he needed to do something, but simply uprooting her life and moving her into his house didn’t seem fair to a woman who was always so strong and independent.
And so, he and his wife discussed financials and made a selfless decision which brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye.
During his leave of absence, he packed up his mother’s house, rented a motor-home and went on a journey with his mother.
He told me, “I wanted her to see all that she wanted to see before she didn’t remember anything anymore. Before she didn’t remember me.”
They traveled all across the country, visiting family and friends she hadn’t seen in years, landmarks she never had an opportunity to visit, and just about anywhere else she wanted to go.
After months of traveling, and proving he had her best interests at heart, she conceded to move in with him so he could care for her properly.
He told me he cherished this time with his mother. That it was only fair that he give back to a woman who gave so much to him over the years.
And while his brother was simply too busy to offer any regular care or assistance for his mother, he admitted, “He was happy he could do this for her.” And no doubt for him too.
The important thing to remember about this story is this: he was happy to have made some difference.
For as Denis Waitley once said, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.”
Have you made some difference today?