Why Rotary can make you happy

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt – from Happiness by Joan Chittister (Eerdmans)

If You Want to Be Happy

Having a sense of purpose and meaning in life ranks high in the cluster of the commonplaces of happiness. No matter where we are on the economic chart, it’s knowing what we exist for that counts. No matter how mundane our gifts may seem to be, even to ourselves, the world will be the poorer without them, and we will be poorer, too, for not having given them as best we can. My life has meaning to every life I touch. It’s knowing that and living accordingly that counts.

Clearly, life does not give us meaning. Life has only the meaning we give it. Without a reason larger than myself for which to get out of bed in the morning, I am losing my life one day at a time, like water drops in an ocean, without so much as a ripple to show for it.

It’s one thing for a person to realize too late that they have lived for no great purpose and so will die with little impact. It’s entirely another, however, to live with the discomfort of knowing that we are living in vain, that we do nothing for no one that has meaning to anyone. But a sense of purpose and meaning, an understanding of why we are doing what we do, has the ring of immortality to it. Then we suddenly come to realize that we are leaving something of value behind us. Then we can be happy for having lived at all.

As the Chinese proverb puts it:

If you want happiness for an hour—take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day—go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year—inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime—help someone else.

– from Happiness by Joan Chittister (Eerdmans)

About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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