Short-Cuts to Happiness

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!”

That’s the way the old refrain goes, and with all the blessings our people enjoy you’d think we’d be getting tired of the noise made by all of those hands clapping together. But it’s not that way at all. We spend more time worrying about things than we do just enjoying life and being happy, and maybe there’s a simple reason for that. Maybe it’s because we’re looking for happiness in all the wrong places–having a lot of money, owning the latest gadgets and gizmos, admiring the way we look and the clothes we wear. Those are some of the things we think will make us happy, but how wrong that turns out to be.

Okay, then, what does make us happy? I came across a list of such things not long ago, and I’d like to share it with you. It comes from a writer named Vesela Simic, and it was cited in the Catholic Review of Baltimore by one of my favorite columnists, Father Joe Breighner. It’s not perfect, and like all such lists it can be improved or added to. But as it is, it makes sense. Read it and decide for yourself how happy you’d be by following the advice it contains.

1. Don’t be a hermit. Share the joys and sorrows of life with a spouse, a friend–someone.

2. Remember to say “thank you.” Develop an “attitude of gratitude,” and see if it doesn’t improve the way you look at life.

3. Emphasize the positive. Focus on what’s right instead of on what’s wrong.

4. Learn how to say “I forgive you.” Don’t be trapped in the past, and don’t hold a grudge. Remember the example our Lord gave us.

5. Perform an act of kindness. Being kind to others means we’re being kind to ourselves.

6. Live in the present. Don’t dwell on the past; don’t worry about the future. Enjoy the peace of the now with God.

7. Work toward a meaningful goal. It’s true; we need a purpose to life.

8. Stay physically active. Father Joe writes: “Years ago I discovered that it’s almost impossible to exercise vigorously and feel depressed at the same time.”

9. Train your mind to meditate from time to time. Sit quietly and still your mind.

10. Believe in the presence of God, or in a higher power. Study after study shows that those who believe in God are happier than those who don’t!

Notice how simple all these things are. “Hit a Lotto jackpot” isn’t on the list. Nor will you find anything about higher salaries, or the biggest television set that money can buy. And don’t look for the glorification of sex; the so-called happiness of a life of unending conquests is empty indeed.

There’s no surer short cut to happiness than doing something for someone else. We might not choose to do a favor for somebody because it also makes us feel good–but inevitably, that’s just what happens.

Here’s to your happiness, too. If you’re not doing the things on this list, try a couple and see what happens. Something tells me you’ll be glad you did!

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