Once there was a great sea captain—the greatest navigator and sailor the world had ever known. His skills were legendary and even mystical. As he got older, he realized that he wanted to build one final ship to sail around the world.
As he gathered trees from around the globe to use for the masts, planking, and other materials of his ship, he realized that something special was happening. The trees seemed to acquire a life of their own. They actually cooperated in helping him as he worked. The longest trunk shaped itself as he formed the keel. The wood bent to make the planking fit more securely to the ribs of the hull. The joints formed themselves so tightly that no caulking was necessary.
When the ship was finished, there had never been anything like it. It let like a tiger when the wind blew. It tacked and turned with virtually no effort at the helm.
So the captain decided to give the ship a gift never before given: he told the ship that it could steer itself on the water. It could make its own choices. The ship became magical. It danced on the waves like a ballerina. It made impossible turns and passed other moving ships as though they were anchored.
One day the ship noticed the snow-capped peak of a nearby mountain and said to the captain, “I can sail like no other ship on earth, can I not?”
“Yes,” said the captain, “you can. You have used your gifts well.”
“I want to try something new and exciting. I am going to sail to the top of that mountain.”
The captain explained what would happen the moment the ship left the safety and freedom of open water, but the ship was simply too excited at the prospect of the new adventure, so it sprinted for the shore. With a brisk tailwind, the ship flew faster and faster, moving so quickly it seemed as though she could reach the mountaintop with a single bound. But the moment the ship hit the rocks on the shore, it shattered into a thousand pieces.
With its last gasp, the ship asked the captain why this had happened, and the captain reminded the ship that he had explained the rules of sailing, and that as long as the ship kept the rules, she would be free. But if she broke them, no matter how great the potential excitement, she would have to pay the price—in this case the ultimate price.
And so it is with us. The rules of happiness, the rules of life, are not restrictive. They are like open water and wind to a ship. They set us free to be spectacularly happy and fulfilled. If we break those rules, however, we give up our happiness and find our freedom severely limited.
Set yourself free with the rules of happiness.
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