he 21 precepts of The Way to Happiness
may be likened to the edges of a road. "Violating them, one is like the motorist who plunges onto the verge — the result can be wreckage of the moment, the relationship, a life," writes the author. And while only the individual himself may decide where to draw the road map of his life, for his goals are wholly his own, if he knows how to stay on that road, it becomes a smooth and fast highway.
The 21 Precepts of The Way to Happiness
- Take Care of Yourself
- Be Temperate
- Don't Be Promiscuous
- Love and Help Children
- Honour and Help Your Parents
- Set a Good Example
- Seek to Live with the Truth
- Do Not Murder
- Don't Do Anything Illegal
- Support a Government Designed and Run for All the People
- Do Not Harm a Person of Good Will
- Safeguard and Improve Your Environment
- Do Not Steal
- Be Worthy of Trust
- Fulfil Your Obligations
- Be Industrious
- Be Competent
- Respect the Religious Beliefs of Others
- Try Not to Do Things to Others that You Would Not Like Them to Do to You
- Try to Treat Others As You Would Want Them to Treat You
- Flourish and Prosper
What is different about The Way to Happiness is that it not only presents the precepts by which one may live a better life, it also explains why. Each precept is accompanied by an essay detailing the very concrete reasons why such behaviour translates into better survival and greater happiness. It demonstrates the very real correlation between virtue and joy.
These precepts and their benefits are described in an everyday life context. For example, one is advised to be temperate and abstain from harmful drugs for the simple reason that life is more enjoyable when people are physically healthy enough to participate in it. Likewise, one is cautioned against promiscuity because relationships and families will shatter in the face of infidelity. With the same logic, readers are enjoined to live with truth and bear no false witness, as "There is nothing unhappier than one who tries to live in a chaos of lies."
Because our well-being is inextricably tied to the actions of others — in matters as broad as national security and as simple as basic sustenance — it becomes vital to promote the benefits of good conduct to others. The Way to Happiness can offer profound help in that regard, clearly demonstrating why such things as fulfilling obligations, honouring one's parents and safeguarding the environment all add up to a vastly improved life for the individual and society as a whole.
The easing of workplace tensions, the quieting of religious and racial intolerance, and the enhancement of personal self-respect and respect for others can all combine to make for a more productive and harmonious civilisation. The central theme of the book is solely a common-sense appeal to one and all to respect one another and to help each other find happiness.
The book has a unique approach to teaching its moral lessons. In clear, non-judgmental language it proceeds from a basic desire in all people to help others achieve happiness. The introduction asks the reader to select someone whose actions influence their own lives and give them copies of the book — one to keep and others to pass on to people who, in turn, affect their well-being. Thus, it is geared not only to helping the reader improve his or her life, but also to improving the lives of the people around them.
As L. Ron Hubbard writes in the introduction:
"You are important to other people. You are listened to. You can influence others.
"The happiness or unhappiness of others you could name is important to you.
"Without too much trouble, using this book, you can help them survive and lead happier lives.
"While no one can guarantee that anyone else can be happy, their chances of survival and happiness can be improved. And with theirs, yours will be.
"It is in your power to point the way to a less dangerous and happier life."