“Happiness,” Helen Keller wrote, “is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” In a society bent on individualism, the insight bends the mind a bit. But think a minute. To realize what great stream of life flows in us, to discover who and what we are and then to give ourselves over to the energy and drive of it for the sake of the world at large has got to be the greatest personal insight in life. Life can be pleasant and privileged and prestigious. But that is not enough. The truly happy life, the philosophers tell us, is about activity. Not just any activity. Not just activity that keeps us busy or has the appearance of importance. The truly happy life is about activity that gives a sense of purpose to life. It is, in other words, activity the intent of which is to do good – to go beyond our own interests and claims-to the needs of the world around us. If we ever want to be happy, then, we need to move beyond the level of simple material satisfaction to the development of the spiritual dimension of what it means to be human. We not only need to find out what we do best and do it to the utmost. We need to ask ourselves again why we were born.
Joan Chittester, Following the Path, Finding Your Purpose