How to Be Happy, Pope Francis-Style

How to Be Happy, Pope Francis-Style July 29, 2014

Pope Francis in Argentinian newspaperWhat is the recipe for happiness?

Argentine journalist Pablo Calvo asked that question of Pope Francis during an audience July 7 at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.  The pope answered amiably, addressing a group of Argentine emigrants and offering ten points.

I confess:  I read these pointers in La Croix, the French Catholic newspaper.  That means I read the Pope’s pointers in English translated from French which was translated from Spanish.  To simplify all of this, I offer the pointers in my own words.

Here, though, is Pope Francis’ advice for those who search for true happiness.

1.  Live and Let Live.  The Romans have a saying that we can take as a guiding thread.  “Go,” they said.  “and let people go ahead.  ‘Live and let live’ is the first step towards peace and happiness.”

2.  Give to Others.  Someone who remains isolated runs the risk of becoming selfish.  Remember that standing water is the first to be corrupted.

3.  Move With Kindness and Humility.  In the 1926 novel Don Segundo Sombra by Argentine poet and novelist Ricardo Güiraldes, the hero recounts how as a youth, man is like a rocky stream which hurried through the mountains, carrying everything ahead; but as an adult, he is a running river.  Then, in old age, there is movement but it is “remansado” (dammed; that is, slow and quiet).  Seniors, said the Holy Father, have the wisdom and the ability to move with kindness and humility.  A people who do not care for their seniors have no future.

4.  Take Time to Play With Children.  Consumerism, Pope Francis warned, has led to a loss of healthy leisure culture, in which people enjoy the opportunity to read, to enjoy the arts.  As Pope, Francis has little opportunity to hear confessions; but as a bishop in Buenos Aires, he heard the confessions of many young mothers who came in.  He asked them, “Do you have children?  And do you play with them?”  His question was not expected; but it was a way of reminding them that children are the key to a healthy culture.  It’s difficult for parents who must go to work early and return after their children are asleep.

5.  Spend Time With the Family on Sundays.  Recently the Holy Father spoke in Campobasso about the importance of reserving Sundays for the family.  He reminded people in the universities and the labor force that we should not work on Sunday.

6.  Help Youth to Find Employment.  “We need to be creative,” Pope Francis said, “with this segment of the population.  If there is a lack of opportunity for gainful employment, young people can get into drugs.  And the suicide rate is very high among young unemployed.  The Pope was unsure whether this was scientific data, but said that he had recently read that there are 75 million people under the age of 25 who are unemployed.  It’s not sufficient to merely feed them; instead, he hoped that they might find opportunities to be a plumber, electrician, designer…. some gainful career in which they could bring home an income.

7.  Care For Creation.  “We must care for creation,” Pope Francis said, “and we do not do so.  This is one of our biggest challenges.”

8.  Forget the Negative Quickly.  The need to speak ill of others is the mark of a low self-esteem.  This means that instead of elevating oneself, a person lowers the other.  It’s healthy, said the Pope, to quickly forget the negative.

9.  Listen To and Learn From Those Who Think Differently.   In a theme which has been quoted in the past, the Pope warned against the danger of religious proselytism, the paralyzing “I dialogue with you in order to convince you.”  Instead, dialogue should permit each to present his views for consideration.  The Church grows by attraction, not by proselytism.

10.  Seek Peace.  “We live in an era in which wars are numerous,” said the Holy Father.  War is destructive; and the call for peace needs to be shouted.  Peace sometimes evokes calmness, but peace is never quiet; it is still an active peace.

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