Someone said this about happiness:
- To be happy for an hour -- take a nap.
- To be happy for a day -- go shopping.
- To be happy for a week -- take a vacation.
- To be happy for a month -- get married.
- To be happy for a year -- inherit a fortune.
- To be happy for a lifetime -- help others.
All right – I don't agree with everything on that list. But I believe the author is exactly right about how to be happy for the rest of your life. Lasting contentment, the most satisfying kind of happiness, can always be found in helping others. And it's a secret that many people have never discovered.
Marion Preminger stumbled upon it and wrote about where lasting happiness is to be found in her autobiography ALL I WANT IS EVERYTHING. Born in Hungary in 1913, Marion was raised in a castle, surrounded by wealth, servants and the notoriety of an aristocratic upbringing.
At a Viennese ball, she met a handsome young man, the son of an Italian doctor. They rushed into a marriage that lasted only a year.
She returned to Vienna to embark on a career of acting. There she fell in love with the German director Otto Preminger. They married and she followed him to America where he began a promising career as a Hollywood movie director. But her new Hollywood lifestyle could not sustain her marriage and Preminger eventually divorced her.
Marion returned to Europe to live the life of a Parisian socialite until 1948. Then everything changed when she read that Dr. Albert Schweitzer was visiting Europe from his home in Africa. She determined to meet with the notable missionary doctor.
She first encountered Schweitzer doing one of the things he loved to do best while visiting Europe -- playing a church organ for his own enjoyment. He invited her to dine with him. After the meal, Marion knew she had finally found what she'd been looking for. She accompanied Schweitzer every day during the remainder of his European visit. He invited Marion to come back to Africa with him and work as an untrained staff member in the Lamberene hospital.
She left her life of status and ease and moved to Africa. Once there, the girl who was raised like a princess became a servant. She changed bandages, bathed bodies and fed lepers. She gave her life away to the poor and, in the midst of it, found the happiness she'd craved for so long.
It was Albert Schweitzer who asserted, "One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve."
However, wherever and whomever we choose to help is unimportant. There are those in need everywhere. But when we figure out how to sincerely help other people, we'll have also learned how to be happy for a lifetime.