Secrets to True Happiness
Seek first the Kingdom of God
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, YEAR A
Who wants to be a millionaire? Of course, a lot of us want to. But how about this, who wants to be HAPPY? I believe that people who are millionaires are NOT NECESSARILY happy and those who are not millionaires though not wealthy COULD STILL BE happy, agree? You could either wait till you’re wealthy to be happy or become happier now and thereby create more wealth (which could not be MONEY essentially). Our Holy Father, Francis, early in his Pontificate shared his Top Ten Secrets to Happiness (allow me to pick only 7 of them) and as a heads up, MONEY or WEALTH is NOT among them whether expressed or implied. Let me point out the first 5:
1. Let everyone be themselves. “The Romans have a saying, which can be taken as a point of reference,” Pope Francis said. “They say: Campa e lascia campà (Live and let live). That’s the first step to peace and happiness.” – Topmost worry of people is what other people’s opinion about them
2. Give yourself tirelessly to others. “If one gets tired, one runs the risk of being egoistic, and stagnant water is the first to be corrupted.”
3. Walk softly. The ability to move with kindness and humility, calmness of life." – Busyness that’s “uncalled for” especially the ones that inhibits him/her from being generous.
4. Be available to your kids and family. "Consumerism has led to the anxiety of losing," the pope said, which has pushed people to spend less time at home and more time pursuing wealth. But Pope Francis said people should invest more time in "healthy leisure." “It is hard. The parents go to work and come back when the children are asleep. [But] it must be done.”
5. Spend Sundays (or a day of rest) with family. This connects back to the fourth point -- make the intention to set time aside for loved ones, despite the pressures of work.
Our Gospel reading this Sunday reechoes what our Holy Father is trying to share to the Catholic community. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount He exhorted His disciples to, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” If we are to seek righteousness, we have to let go of our worries and let God be God. Worries and anxieties are part of our humanity, but if we worry too much, we allow the devil to overpower us by relying on worldly concerns. As St. Therese would say, “God alone suffices.”
At the turn of the century, actress Alla Nazimova was one of this country's earliest stars. Unlike many of her colleagues, Nazimova did not become trapped by a glamorous lifestyle. How did she escape? Her perspective on material things changed the day a fire swept through her Hollywood neighborhood. As the fire moved ever closer to her home, Nazimova ran from room to room, searching for her most valuable possessions to save. To her surprise, none of her pretty furnishings and knick-knacks mattered to her at that moment. The only things she took with her were a few photographs. The fire never reached Nazimova's house, but when she returned to it, nothing felt the same. She began getting rid of her possessions, and reported greater happiness with less things. Most of us can relate to that if we will think about it. Why do we get trapped in this cycle of wanting more and more nice things?
The danger of wanting for more makes us even worried and become so attached to what we don't even have. It blinds our eyes from seeing what is in front of us, which we can already thank God for and ends up in sheer discontent.
Let us consider for a moment the lowly hamster. The hamster spends its days in its little cage day in and day out. Sometimes it turns a little plastic wheel; other times it gnaws on whatever is available. Whatever the hamster needs “falls from the sky” into its happy little cage. It’s a good life: Be cute, keep moving, and all things will be given you, little rodent. Our vision of the good life isn’t much different: Keep moving, make a lot of money; be cute, look good, stay young and healthy; stay within your cage. But there is a problem: In the pursuit of the good life, we become hamsters in a never-ending wheel of motion, moving at a pace that gets more and more difficult to sustain. We have to have what our neighbors have; we have to beat them at all costs; we have to make them wish they were us. But our life on the treadmill is anything but the real thing: the blessed life, rich in joy, rich in peace, rich in the things of God. Time to get off the hamster’s treadmill and embrace the hope of the birds of the sky and the flowers of the field. (“Off the treadmill” by Kenneth H. Carter Jr., The Christian Century, July 24, 2007.] Connections.
Let me finished up with the 3 other things that could give us true wealth/happiness:
6. Move on. Pope Francis encouraged finding ways to more quickly more forward after negative experiences. Forgiveness is key for this, as is having the willingness to let the next moment be better than the last.
7. Actively strive for peace. “War destroys. And we must cry out for peace. Peace sometimes gives the idea of stillness, but it is never stillness. It is always an active peace. I think that everyone must be committed in the matter of peace, to do everything that they can, what I can do from here. Peace is the language we must speak." – To sum up what Pope Francis is suggesting … Don’t worry, Be happy!
Clearly, happiness does not lie in the accumulation of things … things that make us so worried each day. Our Holy Father suggests practical things to be happy and worrying isn’t one of them. Let us focus on some more important things … the values of the Kingdom in which we are all invited to embrace. Let not worries blind us to things that are even more important … things that are already in front of us and let us thank God that He has never left us empty handed! – “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself!”
Catholic News Service Article
- In latest interview, Pope Francis reveals top 10 secrets to happiness
In latest interview, Pope Francis reveals top 10 secrets to happiness