Dear Pope Francis,
I love that lists are becoming so popular. I have loved lists for as long as I can remember. I was really excited by your list of 10 things to do for happiness, and not only because it was a list. I think your ten items make a lot of sense, and apply globally. It got me thinking about what are the ten things that make me happy. In no particular order they are:
- Eating a meal with someone else/other people (even if we’re not eating the same food)
- Spending time with my family
- Being able to listen when someone needs a friend
- Praying with friends
- Campfires (add s’mores to make it even better!)
- Lying on my back and seeing so many stars that I can’t count them all
- Writing purely for the joy of writing
- Having a good conversation with friends (preferably over good food and drinks)
- Seeing the first buds of the spring
- Wading in shallow water at the beach
It was a really hard task because there is a difference between the earthly happiness that comes from more immediate gratification, and t
he peace and joy (that I also call happiness from time to time) that come from God. My list of instant ‘gratification happiness includes things like getting a good grade, eating delicious food (it’s even better when I cooked it myself), or being given a compliment. The list above includes the things that bring me peace and joy. I would enjoy walking in the shallow water or having a good conversation with a friend regardless of what’s going.
While you talk about happiness in your list, I think that what you are really getting at is the feelings of peace and joy, rather than the immediate gratification. If we followed the things on your list, we’d be at peace with our community, the environment and ourselves. These things go much deeper than immediate gratification.
The items on my list nourish my soul. When I’m stressed out, and feel like a weird half-human sleep-walking zombie-monster, doing even one of the things on my list helps me to feel whole. For me, I find myself when I’m in relationship with others, myself and God, and bring all those different elements into balance.
I also think each person’s list of what brings them true happiness is unique. At their core, there might be similarities, the way both mine and yours includes community, the environment and personal components. But how exactly we express them is different. I talk about being able to eat with someone/other people, where you talk about the importance of families eating together with the TV off. I bet there is a similar root for these, but living away from my family means that I have a slightly different way of expressing that because my reality is a little different.
Now, LTP Readers, it’s your turn. Pope Francis and I both made a list of what makes us happy. Share with us in the comments what makes you happy.