The origin of the saying, "Live, laugh, love," often seen as a live, laugh, love wall décor, but also sometimes as a mug, a plate or even a throw or pillow, is an essay by Bessie Anderson Stanley. The first line of the essay reads, "He achieve success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much." The saying was incorrectly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson in the Dear Abby column and was corrected by a letter from Mrs. Stanley's grandson, Arthur Stanley Harvey. The saying had also been incorrectly attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson by Hallmark.
The Meaning of Live, Laugh, Love
Since the saying is so popular, outstripping even “Keep Calm and Carry On,” a slogan from World War II, it is easy to become glib about its meaning. Bessie Anderson Stanley’s essay went on, however, to define the qualities she described in her opening sentence. It is entirely possible that Mrs. Stanley was influenced by Emerson and by Stevenson. The philosophy of transcendentalism was well known by 1904, the time of publication of her essay. Emerson did write a paragraph that begins “To laugh often and much . . .” that continues on in a similar vein, but does not use the words live or love. Stevenson wrote a poem, The Lady of the Snows, that has a line “to live, to love, to live, to die.” The tenor of Mrs. Stanley’s poem clearly indicates that she was well-read, so it is entirely possible that she had read both these works, but she is the one who put them together in that significant way and used them to define success.
A Game Changer
Therefore to display the words, “Live, Laugh, Love” on your wall and to use them as a basic philosophy can be a game changer for your life and for others. Here are ten ways you can share the wisdom distilled by Bessie Stanley Anderson more than a century ago.