This quote, “Be humble, be simple, bring joy to others” is said by Madeleine Sophie Barat, a Catholic Saint, and founder of the Society of Sacred Heart. For me, her legacy of women’s education and concern for the marginalized is inspiring. But she also reminds me of the importance of female role models in my life: my teachers and coaches, the Nuns of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, my family, my friends, and my mother. We sit under the shade of the people who planted the trees before us.
In eight words, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat’s gives us a pathway through life. First, be humble. The art of being humble is a practice. I believe that you do not tell people you are successful, but by doing hard things every day you let them see how capable you are. In a world that rewards being loud, competitive, and boisterous behavior, I find myself temped by traps of popularity and comparison. St. Barat through example and wisdom urges us to choose a different path, to replace hatred with love for all humanity, envy with happiness for others, jealousy with appreciation, selfishness with selflessness, and cynicism with hope.
Second, stay simple. No wealth or happiness can long endure unless built upon truth and justice. To live an honest and joyful life, we should not engage with anything which does not benefit all whom it affects. We succeed in life by attracting other people to go with us. If you want to go fast in life, you go alone, if you want to go far go with others. Every day I work on cultivating my love for all humanity because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me because I will believe in them, and in myself.
Lastly, bring joy to others. To explain this final piece of advice, I borrow the words from David Brooks, from his Ted Talk “The Lies our Culture Tells Us About What Matters — and a Better Way to Live” which is based on his Book “Second Mountain”.
“On the first mountain of our life, when we’re shooting for our career, we shoot for happiness. And happiness is good, it’s the expansion of self. You win a victory, you get a promotion, your team wins the Super Bowl, you’re happy. Joy is not the expansion of self, it’s the dissolving of self. It’s the moment when the skin barrier disappears between a mother and her child, it’s the moment when a naturalist feels just free in nature. It’s the moment where you’re so lost in your work or a cause, you have totally self-forgotten. And joy is a better thing to aim for than happiness.”– David Brooks
Joy is the dissolution of self and to give yourself up to the moment, to nature, to another person, to life. No doubt, this is the joy St. Madeline talks about, but she tells us to extend even further. She advises “bring joy to others“. Life is meaningless without being rooted in a community and without being committed to the people in my life. Starting with self-love, extending to family, and expanding to friends, and endless opening to envelope all of humanity and life is the goal of joy. For these reasons and many more, I chose to honor St. Madeleine Sophie Barat’s words on the home page of my website.