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Love, Prayer and Prize Published: Sunday, October 21, 2001 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

Aristotle rightly argued that the meaning of life is happiness. He said that everything we do aims at some good. And all of these goods aim, in one way or another, at happiness. So he concluded that happiness was the highest good, that is, the very thing that file is all about.

Aristotle’s psychology is a very interesting one. The pursuit of happiness is the primary motivation of human beings. Everything we do intended, directly or indirectly, aims at contributing to our sense of well-being and satisfaction. The challenge is about identifying what exactly makes human beings happy…

Aristotle reflected on the conventional answers: pleasure, honor and money. His profound sentence was that none of these were the source of true happiness. Pleasure is fleeting and tends to make people lousy and dissipated when human beings overindulge. Honor is to dependant on other people. If happiness depends primarily on what other think of us we are going to feel totally dependant of others. Money is only a means to something else. People take the life of money-making because this can lead to something else…

Aristotle ultimately expressed that the authentically happy life is the virtuous life, meaning the learned capacity to act with virtue as the best expression of what it means to be human. Virtuous behavior represents human excellence in action. Since excellence is the manner in which anything best attains its ends, it follows naturally that virtuous behavior must be the manner in which human beings best achieve happiness.

This leads to another profound question: What is the meaning of life? The philosopher Hugh S. Moorhead collected statements on life’s meaning from 250 writers and scholars, and the novelist James Michener did the same. So this is what can be summarized. The main purpose of life is: (1) to have a job in whose purpose you can believe; (2) to have friends whose immediate purpose you can trust; (3) to have some spot on earth you can return to as home; (4) to be at the same time a citizen of the world. It is very interesting that these authors put work first. No wander we find statements such as Emerson’s, “We put our love where we put our labor,” “To work is to pray” by St. Benedict. “For and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing,” by Theodore Roosevelt.

The core elements are love, prayer and prize. This is what we have preached in the last decade under the title of the Sanctification of Work. The argument is that human beings are in essence performing a sacred, life-affirming act of the time they are devoted to work.

Finding satisfaction or happiness at the work we do allow us to fully deploy gifts to support something we really care about. It is about romancing with our work or developing a love affair with our job as Richard L. Leider and David A. Shapiro have beautifully instructed. This also relates to Víctor Frankl’s logo-therapy, a theory that seeks to explain a treat human behavior as a search for meaning venture. He demonstrate that those who managed to live through the horrors of the holocaust had a passion for a person or a cause that sustained them…

A short recommendation. Keep an open mind and an open heart with what you are doing and why you do it…


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