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If you fail at love you fail at everything
Why ancient wisdom is essential for mastering happiness
I was deeply moved by this man. A renowned thinker, he wrote a profoundly insightful book on happiness. I have listened to his soothingly deep voice make deep mysteries both clear and attainable for some time now. People like this man make us better as human beings. He is a philosopher, scientist, mathematician and engineer. A one in a million renaissance man.
I was on a long walk near the beach today, listening to a two hour podcast interview with him that was nothing short of brilliant. Until the topic came to his marriage. With a saddened voice, he shared that his marriage of 28 years is over. He spoke glowingly about his wife as the love of his life, he was gracious and generous when he spoke of it. It reminded me of this scripture.
And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2
I returned to the beach front condo we’re staying in for spring break filled with sadness for this man I so admire, and with gratitude for my marriage of 23 years. I held my wife extra close, I kissed her again and again. I whispered to her just much I love her. We had both failed at love over and over again before we met, and we both know exactly why we are thriving as a couple.
Ancient biblical wisdom.
The words may sound harsh, but they reflect the very essence of what makes us truly happy - love. Without it - we feel like nothing, incomplete, not fully alive. Modern science validates this as much more than poetic fluff. The data from a well known Harvard study on human satisfaction spanning 80 years came back with the number one determining factor of human happiness. In the words of George Valliant, the longest serving director of the study “Happiness is love. Full stop.”
As a coach, I am well aware that including the Bible in my coaching program automatically turns away some of the people and organizations who would otherwise ask for my help. Christian’s are not exactly en-vogue in the US these days.
I don’t mind that. I teach based on these three pillars.
Timeless - ancient wisdom that has endured for millennia without losing its power.
True - modern science and data driven insights into how humans flourish.
Tried - techniques and practices that work for real people in real life situations.
Too many brilliant men and women are derailed in their service to humanity by not mastering love as the core element of happiness. A thriving faith in the context of a brotherhood of people pursuing the same wisdom is the best way to learn love. It’s that simple.
I will never be as brilliant as this man I admire, his name is not important in the context of this post. But I know my marriage is stronger now than when we first started on this journey together. I know Deb’s presence takes my breath away, and my love for her is deeper than ever before.
More importantly I know for a fact that it has nothing to do with luck or chemistry - it is acquired mastery. It can be learned as a skill, which is great news for all of us. Because whatever drives our dreams, the business we build, book we write, people we help, technology we create - all of it pales compared with the ability, and yes, the skill of loving and being loved by those around us. In fact it’s the one thing that both fuels and gives meaning to our calling in life.