HEALTH & HAPPINESS
PHILIPPIANS 4: 4-9
''Rejoice in the Lord always. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.''
Happiness is both a moral obligation and a virtue. The virtue in happiness is that is adds to the health of relationships, work, personality & body. The moral obligation is that it contributes to the quality of our life, facilitates our spiritual work, and protects us from the negativity of life – including the work of many fanatical groups and nut cases.
We need to appreciate happiness as a virtue and obligation (based on above ideas) and learn how: 1) to restrain our unhappiness so as not to inflict it on others and 2) be more happy in our daily activities and pursuit of spirit.
MANY IGNORE JOY AS A SPIRITUAL VIRTUE BECA– USE:
- Tradition equates being sober with being serious
- And associates cheerfulness with being shallow & silly
THE TRUTH IS:
- Some Christians give the impression that they were baptized in vinegar.
- Joyless people tend to dominate religion – esp. Clergy and the congregation
- And joyless, grumpy people dislike those who are able to enjoy life
- So happy people are oddly considered less serious, less caring, and less spiritual!
AND TODAY, THERE ARE MANY WHO MAKE IT THEIR BUSINESS TO REMIND EVERYONE ABOUT:
- All the injustice in the world
- All the crime, poverty, starvation, and sickness everywhere|
- And many other dangers to the world.
- How can any mature person with a conscience
- Feel happy when there is so much misery in the world.
BUT, THESE GRUMPY PEOPLE NEED TO ASK THEMSELVES:
- How does anyone benefit from being unhappy?
- How does any sick person benefit from your unhappiness?
- How does any hungry person feel better if you are unhappy?
- How does any victim of injustice benefit from your unhappiness?
It seems our culture is poisoned by the notion that the pursuit of happiness is a selfish quest. When we think of character traits, we rightly think of honesty, integrity, moral courage, compassion, and acts of charity. Few think of happiness as a character trait or a moral achievement. But happiness is both!
SO THINK OF IT THIS WAY:
Happy people—for the most part—make the world a better place.
While unhappy people make it worse!
CONSIDER THESE POSSIBILITIES:
- The effect of unhappy parents on their children.
- Or the effect of very unhappy children on their parents.
- Or the effect of an unhappy wife or husband on their spouse.
- Or the effect of a grumpy worker on their fellow worker’s morale & mood.
- Who wants to work for an unhappy boss?
DENNIS PRAGER – A COLUMNIST SAYS – THERE ARE THOSE WHO TELL US THAT:
We should regard bad moods as offensive as bad body odor. Just as we shower each day, so as not to inflict our body odor on others, so we should monitor our bad moods, so as not to inflict them on others.
When we are in a bad mood, we can drag down others just by being so grumpy and gloomy – with or without adding long monologues of: griping, complaining, and blaming and pointing out all the faults we see. The evidence for this is massive & continuous.
IF YOU STILL DON’T BELIEVE IN THE DAMAGE THAT UNHAPPINESS CAN CA– USE, THEN THINK OF THESE ITEMS:
- Think of how you are more likely to help people, when you are happy.
- Think of how much easier it is to be tolerant & considerate, when you are happy.
- There is a strong relationship between Happiness & goodness.
- Most fanatical political & religious organizations appeal to unhappy people
- People who feel abandoned, victimized,
- People who bear strong grudges & resentments.
- Happy Muslims are probably not going to become suicide bombers & engage in acts of terrorism
- The happiest Europeans did not become communists or Nazis
- The happiest people do not go around full of anxiety about global warming or nuclear holocaust.
- Happiness seems to protect us from the temptations to overreact to problems on individual or societal levels. Happiness helps us to keep a sensible perspective on both good and bad extremes so we can keep a reasonable balance in our lives.
In case you are wondering, the pursuit of happiness is not the same as pleasure. The pursuit of pleasure is hedonism & selfish. Pleasure is the hedonist’s drug: they always have to have more, and the goal of life becomes this pursuit of pleasure.
But the pursuit of happiness is both healthy & moral. It benefits us & society in many ways. All this is relevant to our pursuit of health & spirituality. We know that happy, optimistic people have less sickness than unhappy, pessimistic people. And once we get sick, it is the happy, optimistic people who are more likely to recover and they heal faster than grumpy people.
BEYOND THE OBVIOUS, HAPPY PEOPLE ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE GOOD RELATIONSHIPS:
- With people
- With their work & other duties
- And also with our creator!
Those who assume that a continual guilty, contrite attitude is essential for spiritual work of prayer, meditation, or service never realize what they are missing. They do well at building up a martyr complex. But that is not considered a virtue.
Spiritual people who manage to be very happy and productive do well at cultivating all the fruits of spirit. They find the spiritual life very rewarding & fulfilling because they find their life meaningful & productive. And because they are close to spirit in heart and mind not just the intellect, they tap the qualities of spiritual joy, hope, & love.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT HOW TO BE HAPPY – THOSE OF YOU WHO WOULD LIKE TO START – WE NEED TO REMEMBER THAT THE ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS ARE:
WORRY IS BAD FOR US BECA– USE:
It makes us concentrate what is wrong, and thus crowds out the attention we could give to what is right, worthy, and enjoyable.
BOREDOM IS BAD FOR US BECA– USE:
It allows us to get into mischief – e.g., gossiping or brooding on how difficult life is. And it means we are ignoring lots of enjoyable activities.
SELF-CENTEREDNESS IS BAD FOR US BECA– USE:
It means we have decided to wait for other people & outer events to make us happy & important. And we are getting lazy about the work of mature living.
THE ANTIDOTES FOR UNHAPPINESS ARE:
Something that requires more than prayer. I have noticed lots of grumpy people pray and still are grumpy.
THE ANTIDOTES ARE 3 ITEMS:
- Something to love
- Something to do
- Something to hope for.
We need something to love:
Because this will generate a good feeling in us and because those we love usually love us back. And this adds to the enjoyment of the day.
We need something to do:
Because idleness tempts us to fuss about things that annoy us. And our accomplishments validate our worth. And support our confidence and joy.
We need something to hope for:
Because hope means we are anticipating wonderful things, and feeling good about them already.
Unhappy people spend most of the time regretting what is wrong, and expecting more of the same! So go ahead and be happy. Shock your friends & relatives if necessary.
When they frown at you & wonder what is wrong with you.
- You know something they don’t.
- that you find many things in life that are wonderful & pleasing
And furthermore –
- You absolutely refuse to go through life sober & joyless like so many do.
- Tell the grumpy people of the world that you have the rest of your life to be miserable, so you are going to enjoy today.
Decide to consider it our moral obligation to avoid inflicting gloom, misery, or suffering on others. Just as we would not want to inflict a bad body odor, as spiritual & mature people, WE NEED TO REMEMBER:
- We are not here to share our misery.
- We are here to share the good we have in terms of our kindness, encouragement, wisdom, our time and other support.
OR, AS PAUL WROTE TO THE PHILIPPIANS:
''Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Think about such things—and the God of Peace will be with you.''