The measure of true human happiness is the sum of our usefulness to others. We cannot do an act of kindness without participating in the benefit done, both directly in improving our character, and indirectly in having made the world better. It should be the prime object of everyone to seek fields of usefulness throughout the hours of wakefulness. A true night's repose will be the reward, and will fit us for extending the field of usefulness next day.
Each act of usefulness helps to build a nation, while any word or deed detrimental to the common weal is destructive of progress.
It should be the object of every living being to serve his neighbor, devoting his highest talents to the purpose. Thus alone can he secure a high standard of excellence in character and work. The unit is a part of the whole, and this same law applies to family and national life, in fact to all humanity regardless of race or color. Usefulness being the central aim of mankind, it behooves us to make it our first study. A close analysis of our institutions, laws and manners, becomes at once essential. Our methods of business, too, must come under close scrutiny. Our daily question becomes, "Wherein are we serving mankind by our work and thought"?
The clear-sighted individual will readily discern between usefulness and mere conventionality. The standard of true usefulness will vary from generation to generation, even from year to year; but no truth will perish, under the scorching rays of strict analysis, on the score of usefulness.
The age moves fast; men, too, must be ready to look stern reality in the face and apply their individual best and brightest, and bring to bear the purest reason to whatever subject or thing they handle. The inexorable law of progress demands nothing better than accurate discrimination, a true critical acumen, ready on conviction to apply whatsoever reform the light of reason may deem expedient.
The business man may be tempted to take the shortest cut in making money; but if he desires to build up character as well as fortune, he has only one guide—the law of usefulness. If this end be not served by his transactions, he is defying a great law, and the final result can be foretold.
God has so ordained, that the moment we go out of our way to apply our talents and opportunities to any purpose but the good of others, evil results. Unhappiness flows into our lives, and we lose natural gifts or acquired knowledge if we fail to use them, and they turn to our own hurt. They become morbid and diseased if we apply them wrongfully. A painter, sculptor, or writer who uses his gift to its highest purpose and devotes his best to his art, finds that each effort enlarges the range of his talent. If, instead, he sit down dormant, he degrades his gift and loses the power. If an athlete lie supinely on a sofa, can he successfully compete at the games? Everyone knows each muscle must be in regular use if its strength is to be maintained.
We conform with the law of use in what is seen. Let us strive to ascertain how we may apply it in the hidden waters of the great current of life.
Leave no gift unused with which nature has endowed you. Are you using time to its true purpose? Do you develop each thought and take from it its best meaning? Does it leave you richer and fuller? If so, a yet brighter thought with higher uses will flow in to take its place.
From childhood we should learn right uses. As we grow older fresh uses will appear, and accurate discrimination takes the place of loose chance.
Christ is our example of power used in its plenitude to the very highest purpose; and even he would not permit the fruitless fig tree to cumber the ground. It must wither up to make room for what is to draw benefits to mankind.
Each thought, each institution, has its day, and serves its purpose. Each is distilled from the great unfathomable ocean of Truth. Only Truth is eternal, and fashioned after the way of God, while man's first end is to strive to interpret Truth—which is God's will—and to turn it to the use of his fellow-man; and this is the key to human happiness.