The principle end of human existence is happiness. Even without Aristotle’s affirmation of this principle, no one would ever question that there are few things in this life as universal as the natural desire for happiness, which surges forth from the human heart: there is no one who does not desire happiness. The question is where to find it… the options are many and varied. Within our secularized ‒ and unhappy ‒ society, there is certainly no lack of ‘self-help’ manuals which present diverse alternatives, based either on an indifferent detachment imbued with agnostic ethics or on a dubious philanthropy without God.
On the contrary, since the dawn of Christianity, the Fathers of the Church, and of course, the Magisterium, have pointed out the advantages of transcending the legitimate though transitory joys of this valley of tears, in order to seek the eternal joys ‘where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal’ (Mt 6:20). However… have things changed recently?
- Live and let live. “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.”
- 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.”
- Walk softly. “In ‘Don Segundo Sombra’ there is a very beautiful thing, a man who looks back on his life, the main character. He says that in youth he was a rocky stream that carried everything ahead; as an adult, he was a running river and that in old age, he felt movement, but it was slowed down. I would use this image of the poet and novelist Ricardo Güiraldes, the last adjective, calmed down. The ability to move with kindness and humility, calmness of life. Elderly people have this wisdom; they are the memory of a people. And a people that doesn’t take care of its elderly has no future.”
- Play with your children: “Consumerism has led to a frenzy, and the loss of the healthy culture of relaxation, reading, enjoying art. Now I don’t often hear confessions, but when I was in Buenos Aires I used to hear a lot, and when a young mother came I would ask: ‘How many children do you have? Do you play with your children?’ It was an unexpected question, but I would say to them that playing with their children is important for a healthy culture. It is difficult. The parents go to work early and come back when the children are asleep. It is hard. But it must be done.”
- Spend Sundays with family: “The other day, in Campobasso, I went to a meeting between the university world and the world of manual workers. And all complained that they couldn’t work on Sunday. Sunday is for the family.”
- Help young people to find work: “It is important to be creative with young people. If they lack opportunities, they fall into drugs. And the number of suicides among unemployed youths is very high. The other day I read, but I don’t count this as a scientific fact, that there are 75 million young people under the age of 25 unemployed, It is not enough to give them food, there has to be a one-year course to learn to be a plumber, an electricist, a tailor. That gives them the dignity of being the bread-winners.”
- Care for nature: “We have to take care of creation and we are not doing so. This is one of the greatest challenges we have.”
- Quickly forget negative experiences: “The necessity to speak badly of others indicates poor self-esteem, it is to say: ‘I feel so low, that instead of raising myself up, I put others down.’ To quickly forget what is negative is healthy.”
- Respect those who think differently: “We can question others with our testimony, so both may progress in this communication. But the worst thing that can happen is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I dialogue with you to convince you.’ No. Each person should dialogue from within his own identity. The Church grows through attraction, not through proselytism.”
- Actively strive for peace. “We are living in a time of much war. In Africa, there seem to be tribal wars, but they are much more than that. 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.” (Interview with Pablo Calvo, July 27, 2014 – English summaries of the same: here, here, and here)
Enter the various parts of our study
I- No Creature can Confer Happiness – It is Found only in God
II – Which Path Leads to Happiness?