Poems and Letters

Leonard Bernstein’s 11 Keys to Happiness

Leonard Bernstein wrote this poem in November of 1989 at the age of 71.

He penned this ode to joy 11 months before the years of smoking cigarettes, and the side effects of cancer treatments, took their deadly toll. He would pass away in less than a year, having left the world his 11 keys to joy.

(Yes, “the love of learning” appears twice.)

Components of Happiness

The love of learning
The power to praise

The capacity to change
The ability to love (+ to teach)

The gift of enjoyment
(The enjoyment of gifts)

The competence to speak (+ hear)
The competence to sing, dance (+ listen)

The wonder of understanding + being understood
The love of learning

The joy of gratitude

~ Leonard Bernstein, 1989

About this content

Leonard Bernstein’s poetry is used on Classical.org by permission of The Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc. All rights reserved.

Post updated: September 27, 2018

What are your components of happiness?

Tell us: @Classicalorg on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. #Bernsteinat100 #Bernsteinpoem #OdetoJoy


Support provided by:

Newsletter Signup

Get Classical.org, the premiere classical music digital entertainment experience, in your inbox. Subscribe today!