Helen Keller? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: A wise statement about true happiness and its connection to the pursuit of a worthwhile objective has been attributed to the blind social activist Helen Keller. Are you familiar with this saying and is the ascription accurate?
Quote Investigator: Hellen Keller maintained a journal during the years 1936 and 1937 which was published in 1938. The entry dated December 10, 1936 contained the following passage about true happiness. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1 2
Certainly I believe that God gave us life for happiness, not misery. Humanity, I am sure, will never be made lazy or indifferent by an excess of happiness. The order of nature will always necessitate pain, failure, separation, death; and these will probably become more menacing as the complexities and dangerous experiments of a vast world civilization increase. The delicate task will remain ours to ensure God’s gift—joy—to His children. Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. Happiness should be a means of accomplishment, like health, not an end in itself.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1938, Helen Keller’s Journal 1936–1937 by Helen Keller, (Journal Date: December 10, 1936; Journal Location: The Manse, Bothwell), Quote Page 57 and 58, Doubleday, Doran & Company Inc., Garden City, New York. (Verified with scans via archive.org) link ↩
- 1938, Helen Keller’s Journal 1936–1937 by Helen Keller, (Journal Date: December 10, 1936; Journal Location: The Manse, Bothwell), Quote Page 64, Publisher Michael Joseph Ltd., London. (Verified with scans via archive.org) link ↩