I don't so much mind looking back on having lost the election, or having been denied a role in the play, or having had my novel repeatedly rejected, or having been turned down for a date, or recalling laughter at my expense when I attempted some silly challenge. Those things simply prove that I lived life. What I do mind, however, is looking back on the lost opportunities where imagined concerns kept me from even trying—lose or win. I've learned that there is no regret in a brave attempt, only in cowering to fear.
I’ve come to think that flourishing consists of putting yourself in situations in which you lose self-consciousness and become fused with other people, experiences, or tasks. It happens sometimes when you are lost in a hard challenge, or when an artist or a craftsman becomes one with the brush or the tool. It happens sometimes while you’re playing sports, or listening to music or lost in a story, or to some people when they feel enveloped by God’s love. And it happens most when we connect with other people. I’ve come to think that happiness isn’t really produced by conscious accomplishments. Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities. Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.
Don’t simply exist in this world, but grasp life’s potential by the jacket. Dare it to be all it can. Make life historical—a gripping account of accomplishment. Make life a mystery—a challenging, bold adventure. Make life heartfelt—an enduring, poetic romance. Whatever it is you make of your world, live the fairy tale.