“A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.”

– Helen Keller

Meaning of the quote

As this quote was derived from an article written by Helen Keller, we will use excerpts from that article, using the explanations that she offered.

Keller wrote that: “Happiness is one of the slowest ripening fruits in the Garden of Life, and, like all fruits, it must be grown.”

A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships. Happiness is not for wild animals who can only oscillate between hunger and repletion. To be happy we must exercise our reasoning faculty and be conscious of our will and powers. In other words, we must have learned the secret of self-discipline. To be happy we must do those things which produce happiness.” (Bold emphasis added).

Keller wrote that happiness is something we have to cultivate and work at.

“Some of us have not one plant in our lives on which to grow the fruit of happiness. We have not planted one sound seed in our hearts, and when we do plant a seed, it gets so little sunshine that it can never come to maturity.”

In summarizing, Keller wrote that happiness is a matter of cause and effect and that “It is guaranteed in the very laws of the universe.”

“It all comes to this: the simplest way to be happy is to do good. This is instant and infallible happiness.”

Origin of the quote

This quote comes from a magazine article written by Helen Keller titled “The Simplest Way to Be Happy” as published in Home Magazine (February, 1933).

About Helen Keller

Helen Adams Keller (1880-1968) is most known for her triumphs in overcoming both deafness and blindness by going on to earn a bachelor of arts degree in spite of her handicaps. She went on to become an author, political activist and lecturer. She was recognized in the centennial year of her birth with a presidential proclamation from President Jimmy Carter. Her birthplace in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, is now a museum. In 2003, she was depicted on the Alabama state quarter of US currency, which also was the first US coin to feature Braille, using the raised symbols to spell out her name. There have been numerous artistic works and films telling her life story, one of the most famous of which is the 1962 Oscar-winning film, “The Miracle Worker,” which was derived from her autobiography, “The Story of My Life.”