"You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world, and as you walk through those doors today, you will only have two choices: love or fear," Jim Carrey said during his commencement address at the Maharishi School of Management in Fairfield, Iowa on May 24. "Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart."
This year, Carrey and other commencement speakers gave the Class of 2014 some time-worn (but more relevant than ever) advice on finding happiness and personal fulfillment: Choose love over fear in work, relationships and life as a whole.
This theme is something of a shift from the traditional focus of graduation speeches, which share secrets to achieving success (often defined in terms of money and power) from those who have already made their way to the top. But this year's focus on love and connection -- particularly in the speeches of Jim Carrey, Rainn Wilson and John Legend -- reflects a new definition of success, one that prioritizes well-being, happiness and compassion.
Here's some of the best advice from this year's commencement speeches so far on love, fear, and building a life of meaning and purpose.
Jim Carrey, Maharishi School of Management:
"You can fail at something you don't want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love."
“Now fear is going to be a player in life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all it will ever be is what’s happening here, the decisions in that we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it."
Grace Potter, St. Lawrence University:
"Honestly, more than anything else, it is love that got me here today. ... I see now that it's these experiences, large and small and people who give their time in our early lives that truly shape our path. I hope you can all feel my gratitude and share in this experience."
John Legend, University of Pennsylvania:
“We’re taught when we’re young that the opposite of love is hate, but it’s not. Hate is a byproduct, hate is a result. Being a hater isn’t cool -- nobody wants that. But hate comes from one thing: fear. Fear is the opposite of love.”
"The reason I'm here, the reason I've had such a wonderful journey so far, is that I've found love. Yes, love. We were all made to love. And I've found that we live our best lives, we are at our most successful, not simply because we're smarter than everyone else, or because we hustle harder. Not because we become millionaires more quickly. The key to success, the key to happiness, is opening your mind and your heart to love. Spending your time doing things you love and with people you love.
"If you're committed to loving in public, it requires you opening your eyes to injustice, to see the world through the eyes of another. This is not a passive activity. You have to read. You have to travel to other neighborhoods, other parts of the world. You may have to get your hands dirty. You have to allow people to love you, and you have to love them back."
Colin Powell, High Point University:
"Go forth and raise strong families remembering that all you can ever leave behind is your reputation, your good works and your children for the next generation."
Rainn Wilson, University of Southern California:
"In this me-me-me culture, focus on yourself [and you will] find only misery, depression, emptiness. Focus on helping others [and you will find] joy, contentment, gratitude and buckets and buckets of eudaimonia."
"The real trick to find joy is... share it. Tell someone you love -- or better, someone you hate -- what you're grateful [for] about them.... Share of your heart and watch it soar."
Charlie Day, Merrimack College:
"You cannot let a fear of failure or a fear of comparison or a fear of judgment stop you from doing what's going to make you great. You cannot succeed without this risk of failure. You cannot have a voice without this risk of criticism. And you cannot love without the risk of loss."
Zadie Smith, The New School:
“Walk down these crowded streets with a smile on your face. Be thankful you get to walk so close to other humans. It’s a privilege. Don’t let your fellow humans be alien to you, and as you get older and perhaps a little less open than you are now, don’t assume that exclusive always and everywhere means better. It may only mean lonelier. There will always be folks hard selling you the life of the few: the private schools, private plans, private islands, private life. They are trying to convince you that hell is other people. Don’t believe it."
Jill Abramson, Wake Forest University:
“I’m talking to anyone who’s been dumped, not gotten the job you really wanted, or received those horrible rejection letters from grad school. You know the sting of losing. Or not getting something you badly want. When that happens, show what you are made of.”
Anne-Marie Slaughter, Tufts University:
"Stand up for love. Stand up for each other."