The Thought for the Day – Robert Louis Stevenson

There is no duty so much we underrate as the duty of being happy. – Robert Louis Stevenson


Robert Louis Stevenson remains, more than a century after his death, one of this planet’s most translated writers, the author of such timeless classics as Kidnapped  and Treasure Island, among others. Born in Scotland and never particularly healthy, Stevenson made his way to America and then, in 1888, he journeyed to the South Pacific and died at the age of 44 in Samoa. Regular readers of The Thought for the Day may well recognize this quote because it was featured last summer.

Some people believe that happiness is reserved for others. This has been especially true since television became the focal point of the American experience, because viewers are constantly bombarded with images of the rich and famous and may well be left with the impression that happiness is reserved exclusively for those on TV and others don’t need to worry about being happy.

Nothing is further from the truth. Happiness is reserved for everyone willing to put some work into their lives, to realize how we were meant to spend our time on this planet and then and then to go out and live that life. Robert Louis Stevenson knew writing made him happy, so he went and did it, by chance reaching critical and commercial heights few in this trade manage to attain.

We may not be remembered for generations like Stevenson is but, like Stevenson, we can find out what makes us happy and the go out and do it. What makes us happy varies from person to person, of course. My neighbor likes to spend every possible day on the golf course. Whatever. Golf was invented by Satan on the seventh day and we stopped playing ages ago because we didn’t want to end up in prison. Similarly, my neighbor seldom writes anything more than his shopping list. We were all meant to do certain things and we best be doing them. 

…the duty of being happy.

Happiness is usually the byproduct of having a purpose for your life. If we are not happy, if we are cranky, and unfulfilled, it could be because we declined to listen to our hearts. So go, listen to yours and hear what it is saying. Our hearts tell us where we should go with our lives and our instincts will tell us how to get there. All we have to do is put them to work for us. 

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