Editor's note: "The Spoken Word" is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast.
Everyone wants to be successful, and everyone wants to have a good life. These may sound like the same goal, but depending on your definition of success, they might be quite different. A person can be "successful" in certain areas of life and yet feel miserable and lonely. On the other hand, a truly happy life, a good life, is a successful life in the most meaningful sense.
Although everyone walks a different path in life, we all share some common pursuits that bring happiness. Perhaps the most universal of these is love. Most people find happiness in showing love to others: family, friends, anyone who needs love — and that includes just about everyone.
One man found that climbing the corporate ladder was not as fulfilling as he thought it would be. He craved more meaning and connection, more purpose in his life. He found it by building relationships with loved ones and serving in his community. A young woman said that she found her good life as she stopped being jealous of others and just loved and enjoyed the people around her.
Attaining a good life certainly doesn't just happen to us — we have to create it. A popular singer shared this memorable formula: To succeed, you need "a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone" (see Reba McEntire, in Alexandra Wolfe's "Reba McEntire's Spiritual Turn," Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2018, wsj.com). In other words, have a wish, a goal, something to look forward to. And show some backbone by working hard, staying strong, holding on to principles and persevering in the face of setbacks. But don't forget your funny bone — try to smile, even laugh if you can, when times get tough.
If our wish, our deepest desire, is to live with greater love toward the people who mean the most to us; if we are willing to put our back into this goal, to give it a sincere and steadfast effort; and if we can do it all with a sense of humor, then we can have both a successful and a good life.