Love people, not pleasure

ABD AL-RAHMAN III was an emir and caliph of Córdoba in 10th-century Spain. He was an absolute ruler who lived in complete luxury. Here’s how he assessed his life:

I have now reigned above 50 years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity.

But listen to what he wrote next:

I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot.

They amount to fourteen.

Abd Al-Rahman III forgot a crucial truth about unhappiness. Don’t make the same mistake yourself.

Read the featured essay by Arthur Brooks in the New York Times.