One of the fatal popular fallacies about happiness is that it lies at the end of a long and exhausting road, with the result that when we arrive at the end we are so spent and worn that the capacity for happiness has died out of us. This is the pathetic history of a great many lives which are commonly called successful: the lives of men who have spent themselves without thought or care to get wealth or position or power, and when the long-sought end has been reached, the far-off goal touched, have found themselves indifferent to or unable to get out of wealth or power or position anything except care and responsibility. The joy escaped by the way; happiness was never other than a receding vision on the horizon. If we are to have happiness at all, we must get it here and now; and we must get it by understanding clearly that it is not at a distance either in time or space, and that it is not in any external conditions; that the capacity for it is easily exhausted; that it is a desire of the soul readily dissipated; a beautiful possibility quickly sacrificed in the haste and tumult and passion of getting and spending, of working or worrying. They who are overanxious, or who mistake the road, or who postpone to the indefinite future, commit the fatal blunder of buying happiness at the price of their capacity for it, and arrive at the end of the journey only to find that they have come along to a place where no one meets them and that they might have had a companion every step of the way.

November 20, 1909

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